George Washington erected a large stone gristmill in 1771 to increase production of flour and cornmeal and to be able to export high quality flour to the West Indies, England, and Europe. In 1797, Washington's Scottish farm manager James Anderson encouraged him to build a whiskey distillery adjacent to the gristmill.
Distillers discuss 18th-century techniques of operating copper stills, mash tubs, and a boiler in the two-story building that also includes an office and living quarters. A museum on the second floor features a History Channel video, George Washington's Liquid Gold, and an exhibit, Spirits of Independence: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry.
A 16-foot waterwheel powers the giant gears and millstones of Washington's remarkable mill that includes the only operating Oliver Evans Automated Milling System in America. The Evans System won U.S. Patent No. 3 and helped to make the gristmill at Mount Vernon a commercial success. Demonstrations of the mill are given by millers in early-American attire. Stone ground cornmeal produced on site is available at the Gristmill Shop and the Shops at Mount Vernon.