History of Rum
George Washington’s political, military, and personal relationship with rum exemplified the centrality of the drink to colonial society and American independence
While rum was never produced at Mount Vernon during George Washington's life it was the preferred alcoholic drink of American colonists.
The colonists produced rum from molasses made in the Caribbean, and Washington purchased it by the hogshead (a cask of more than 100 gallons). By one estimate, colonists consumed 3.7 gallons annually per head by the time of the American Revolution.
In early February of 2018, Mount Vernon's historic trades staff distilled rum at George Washington’s Distillery for the first time. Their historic recipe used period-appropriate rum yeast and molasses made in Barbados, which were distilled using 18th-century methods. The historic trades staff distilled the rum in conjunction with the publication of the George Washington's Barbados Diary. This diary documented Washington's voyage to the island with his half-brother Lawrence in the fall and winter of 1751-1752.
George Washington’s Barbados Diary is the only document that exists from his formative years. Written when Washington was 19 years old, the diary chronicles his observations from his journey down the Potomac River to Bridgetown, Barbados with his older half-brother Lawrence in 1751-1752.
This was Washington's only journey abroad. His entries record how he acquired a life-long love of pineapple and his first taste of avocado. On the long journey to Barbados, he tells of catching dolphins and a shark. Washington was taken with the lush green of the island and the fields of sugar cane, fruit trees, and corn.
The diary’s condition is fragile, and with the support of the Life Guard Society, a team of experts from the Washington Papers has undertaken considerable research to create an annotated, transcribed edition of the diary that every historian studying Washington’s early life will need to reference. This definitive edition will be more accurate than any other and include maps, a scholarly introduction, and four appendices.
Washington’s Barbados Diary will be released in both print and digital forms later this year.Learn More About Washington's Trip
In 1799, George Washington's distillery produced nearly 11,000 gallons, making it one of the largest whiskey distilleries in America at the time. Today, a faithfully reconstructed working distillery produces small batch spirits on site and is open to visitors.Learn More
Bottles of the distilled spirits produced at Mount Vernon are available for purchase at the Shops at Mount Vernon. Quantities are limited.Find out what is currently available.