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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University June 13, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 37
'Washington's Whiskey' On Tap at Homewood House Museum

At 6 p.m. on Friday, June 17, Homewood House Museum will again strike the perfect balance between libations and learning at its ninth annual Evening of Traditional Beverages. Now a Baltimore tradition, the event is held on Homewood's lawn (Glass Pavilion in case of rain) and combines sophisticated historical content with a cocktail party.

This year, Dennis Pogue, who is directing the research, archaeology and reconstruction of George Washington's Mount Vernon distillery, will lecture on "Washington's Whiskey" and lead a tasting of rye and bourbon followed by an hors d'oeuvre reception. Andy Bienstock, WYPR-FM's program director, jazz guru and host of The Signal, will serve as the evening's emcee. Admission is $25, and reservations are required.

Pogue is an authority on Washington's transition from tobacco to grain farmer and his role as one of the country's largest whiskey producers. Associate director for restoration at Mount Vernon, he began the excavation of the property's distillery five years ago and is now preparing for its reconstruction to begin in the fall.

Washington's distillery was a uniquely ambitious operation, Pogue says. "It was founded in 1797, and though there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of distilleries built during the time, Mount Vernon's is the largest whiskey distillery we know of from this era." In 1799 — the height of the distillery's production under Washington's ownership — 11,000 gallons of whiskey were produced.

The whiskey would have been made of 60 percent rye, a far greater percentage than is currently used. In addition, Pogue says, "Washington's whiskey had a distinctive flavor and was clear, not brown from aging."

For tickets or more information, call 410-516-5589.


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