Whiskey Review: John Jacob Rye

The History

According to the Mischief Distillery website, John Jacob immigrated to the States from Holland in 1929. Being a distiller, he distilled various neighboring farmers’ crops for them, mostly producing spirits from corn and wheat. However, according to his personal journal, rye was always his favorite.

Mischief owners, Mike Sherlock and his wife Patti, started making whiskey in the 90’s, and around this time began making rye whiskey from John Jacob's personal journal. Where did they get his journal, you might ask? It turns out Patti is John Jacob's granddaughter! Hence his namesake rye whiskey lives on. If you’re interested in more of the story, check out Fremont Mischief’s website.

The Make

John Jacob Rye Whiskey is made with 90% northern dark rye berries, and 10% malted barley. Mischief is committed to locally sourced, organic grains and ingredients for all of their spirits. Grains are acquired from local Ebey Road Farms and Camas Country Mill and Hunton Farms, while spent grains are delivered to Krainick Dairy Farm. This full-circle approach reflects the thoughtfulness that Mischief puts into every step of their craft spirits.

All spirits from Mischief are distilled on beautiful hand-made stills from the Arnold Holstein Co. If you haven’t checked out the distillery, you owe it to yourself to visit—these stills are awesome! Mischief uses "small batch distilling" techniques to maximize control over their spirits and ensure that every batch that comes off of the still will be delicious.

The Nose

Fruity esters abound on the nose of this whiskey with scents reminiscent of ripe peach. Some notes of green apple and lemon are also present, along with a mild oakiness. Finally, earthy straw and grass notes take one's mind to the field of rye from which this whiskey is created.

The Palate

While not aged for a particularly long time, this whiskey is incredibly smooth with little heat. The body is a bit thin, with a short to medium linger on the palate. Oak is present as is some caramel. Mild citrus notes compliment some notes of cherry.

Somewhere in the complex mix of subtly sweet flavors, I found hints of cocoa and honey appearing in the middle of the flavor profile. Finally, there is a youth to this whiskey that brings with it some of the earthy, herbal flavors of rye and field grass, along with some coriander, and only mild spiciness for a rye.


I’ve really enjoyed this whiskey ever since I first tasted it almost 3 years ago while touring Mischief. Trying it again recently, I still found myself very impressed. I sipped on this for half an hour and kept unearthing more unique flavors. This is a complex and very unique rye; it utilizes its youth (aged less than 2 years) to enhance the flavor profile with its unique mix of herbal, fruity, and sweet flavors. If you missed when we tasted this at our monthly meeting in March, get yourself some John Jacob, sit down at the end of the day, and sip away.

We tasted Fremont Mischief John Jacob Rye at our monthly meeting in January. If you’d like to know more about being a part of our monthly meetings or how to become a member of the Seattle Whiskey Collective, visit our home page.