Book from Rockbridge publisher wins national award
The winners of the 16th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards were announced at the annual BookExpo America publishing convention in New York City. Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry by Dennis J. Pogue won the silver medal for excellence (Mid-Atlantic Region) Best Non-Fiction category.
The awards are presented annually to honor the year’s best books, recognizing excellence and rewarding authors and publishers who “take chances and break new ground,” said Jim Barnes, Managing Editor and Awards Director.
Over 5,200 book entries were received for this year’s IPPY competition.
Pogue is vice president for Preservation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. In Founding Spirits he presents Washington’s largely unknown and unexamined role as the entrepreneurial owner of one of the largest whiskey distilleries in 18th-century America. As an archeologist, Pogue used the rich body of personal papers and other documentary evidence to oversee the research and planning related to reconstructing the original distillery near the Mount Vernon plantation. The money required to fund both the research and the reconstruction of the distillery was provided by the member companies of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America.
Pogue tells the story of the first president’s personal experiences with alcoholic beverages and his career as a distiller. Forming the core of this detailed portrayal are the origins of the American whiskey industry. At the end of Washington’s second presidential term, his plantation manager, a Scotsman with extensive experience distilling whiskey, made the president a proposition that he simply could not refuse. Washington agreed to invest in a stone still house and outfit it with state-of-the-art distilling equipment. The enterprise soon grew to be the most profitable of all of Washington’s commercial ventures. George Washington’s personal views on the consumption of spirits are included in one of the appendices in this historical book.
Pogue writes extensively about the importance of alcohol production and consumption in the early years of the country’s history. Readers will be surprised at the quantities consumed by America’s earliest settlers leading up to the years of the temperance movement resulting in the Prohibition era and its eventual reversal.
Another useful appendix in Founding Spirits details the America Whiskey Trail that includes in depth information about present day distillers. The American Whiskey Trail is a vehicle for enthusiasts to embark on an educational journey into the cultural heritage and history of spirits in America. From the Colonial Era, when whiskey and rum served a particularly important social and economic function within the fabric of the community, through the Whiskey Rebellion, to Prohibition, and into modern times, spirits have occupied a sometimes controversial but always fascinating place in the nation’s history.
The book can be purchased online at www.marinermedia.com/bookstore.html.