When it's made in the United States, specifically at George Washington's Distillery and Gristmill in Virginia near Mount Vernon — and not in Scotland, where all scotch comes from — then does it become scotch whiskey with an "e"? Not exactly.
"I thought that we should bring the Scots over to make whisky here," says Blackmore. He began talking to a few people, and before long the idea began rolling around like a barrel of, well, whisky.
A brief history lesson: In the late 1700s, James Anderson, George Washington's farm manager, who was originally from Scotland and a whisky maker, talked his boss into getting into the distilled spirits industry. Washington eventually became the largest distiller of corn and rye whiskey in the nation.
Washington's distillery, painstakingly restored to its 18th century architecture and reopened in 2007, seemed the logical place to make whisky. With the combined efforts of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the Scotch Whisky Association, the Scottish government and the Mount Vernon Estate, the distilling began.
A few tons of Scottish malt barley were imported to the distillery, where it was milled.
Next came a handful of Scotsman in kilts, including Glenmorangie master distiller Bill Lumsden. On the domestic side was David Pickerell, the master distiller for the George Washington Distillery.
For three days in late March, these forces made scotch whisky the old-fashioned way, with wood-burning fires and copper pots and three-cornered hats.
So how do you get your hands on a bottle of the scotch whisky-without-the-e? For the time being, you don't. In following the rules of the Scotch Whisky Association, the whisky must be aged in barrels for at least three years.
But three years from now, you might have a shot at tasting the whisky: The first 100 bottles — the first scotch ever to come out of the distillery at Mount Vernon — will be auctioned for charity around the world.
Though you may not ever taste the whisky, you can still see the distillery and how whiskey was made in Washington's time.
"The still is primarily an education exhibition by seeing how whiskey was made 200 years ago," says Dennis Pogue, vice president for preservation at Mount Vernon Estate. He added that the story of making scotch on the property "really resonates" because of the connection between America and Scotland.
"The bonds of friendship between the two nations go back a long way," says Robin Naysmith, the Scottish government counselor for North America. "James Anderson persuaded George Washington that whiskey wasn't a bad industry to get into."
A visit to the distillery and museum is the perfect accompaniment to a visit to Mount Vernon and is quite family-friendly.
And perched on a nearby hill is Washington's reconstructed gristmill. Re-enactors in colonial clothing grind corn and wheat into meal, flour and stone-ground grits that are sold at the gift shop.
If you go
Sixteen miles south of Washington, D.C., and three miles from the Mount Vernon Estate, George Washington's Distillery and Gristmill and gift shop are open daily April through October. 703-780-2000, mountvernon.org