Voted Best Distillery 2017!


For Success, Mike Sherlock Mixes One Kind of Whiskey with a Lot of Clever Thinking

Best Distillery: Fremont Mischief Distillery – Seattle Weekly 2017

Photo and Article By Jason Simms
Wednesday, August 2, 2017 1:30am | Seattle Weekly

Before he opened Fremont Mischief Distillery, Mike Sherlock built a thriving shipyard business on Lake Union by saying “Yes.”

Cut a boat in half and lengthen it? Sure! Design and build an on-board factory for processing fish? No sweat.

Sherlock, 61, the son of a welder on Whidbey Island, started a ship-repair business in 1981. It grew from a one-man operation to 300 employees before he sold it in 2008. Sherlock loved a challenge. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was laying the groundwork for a second career in distilling. Tired of working long hours and holidays (ships like to set sail right after Christmas), Sherlock and his wife, Patti Bishop, a successful software entrepreneur, left their companies to open Washington’s fourth distillery in 2009, a year after the legislature passed a law allowing such operations in the state for the first time since before Prohibition.

The new business gave Sherlock a chance to express his aesthetic and technical creativity. “Everything here is working art,” says Sherlock walking among copper and steel tanks adorned with vintage metal-framed, submarine-style round windows that you half-expect to see Jacques Cousteau peering back through. Indeed, even the drain panels at Fremont Mischief have a steampunk flourish. But the distillery’s unique look isn’t just for style. “These are the only stills in the world with wizard caps,” Sherlock says, referring to the stills’ conical tops. These, plus other modifications borrowed from the fish-processing facilities Sherlock used to build, allow the spirits to attain a higher proof much more quickly. “When you see vodka that says it’s three or five times distilled, that’s not because it makes a better vodka,” Sherlock explains. “It’s because it’s necessary to reach a high-enough proof. For us, it only takes one run.”

The result is a vodka smooth enough that, rather than being mixed in cocktails, is poured straight in Mischief’s tasting room. Vodka is relatively new to the distillery (as is gin), which has focused on rye since its beginning. In fact, it’s the only variety of whiskey produced at the distillery—notable since most distilleries don’t make a rye. Mischief makes four, which win it a ton of awards, including a gold medal from the American Distilling Institute for the Dark Northern Reserve.

Sherlock’s affinity for rye stems from partnerships with local farmers willing to take on the difficult crop, which is essentially a weed that kills other crops if not grown skillfully. From the outset, Mischief has sourced rye and barley (both ingredients in rye) from farmers across the Pacific Northwest. “The Skagit Valley has some of the richest soil in the world,” says Sherlock, who attributes some of his whiskey’s character to the rye grown here. Photos of the farmers and their fields adorn the walls of Mischief’s courtyard.

Visitors to the canal-adjacent Fremont distillery, covered in turn-of-the-century maritime-style painting by local artist Jill Carter, are likely unaware of a variety of green innovations going on behind the scenes. Again drawing on Sherlock’s experience in the shipyard, Mischief is equipped with a water-recycling system that enables the distillery to draw only 170 gallons from the city daily, even though it uses at least 3,000 total gallons each day. Other tricks employed by Sherlock are almost laughably simple. For instance, the distiller noticed that the large containers holding the distillery’s used mash held a temperature of over 100 degrees for several days. He realized he could put a fan on the containers as they awaited shipment to a farm for cow feed and heat the warehouse.

As passionate as Sherlock is about the mechanical elements of his distillery, he bursts into huge smiles talking about the spirits themselves. The two varieties of Storm Tossed Rye make for a revealing taste test. Though wildly different in character, their only difference is that they are aged in barrels on different shipping vessels. They were made as part of a charity fundraiser with the captains from Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, one of the distillery’s many philanthropic initiatives.

“What’s fun is thinking up something and then actually doing it,” Sherlock says. This seems to be the motto that guides Fremont Mischief. In the shipyard, Sherlock welcomed unusual requests. He now requests the unusual of himself. Sherlock’s latest mission is to put Fremont Mischief on the map of the neighborhood’s oddities. The distiller is a huge fan of the troll sculpture, the Lenin statue, and the Fremont Rocket. He plans to join the party by adding a 24-foot blimp to the roof of the distillery’s tasting room.

Local Farms Craft Sustainable Business – Huffington Post

Untitled1“Local”, “Organic”, and “Fair-Trade USA” are sought after products for many shoppers today. These labels are a non-negotiable staple when given the choice. The artisan, farm-to-table spirit has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest and is now proudly seen in Seattle’s-own distillery market. Home to 27 micro distilleries, Seattle is the fastest growing player in America.

Craft distillery locations increased in 2008 after the Washington State Legislature passed its original craft distillery law. Post prohibition the new law gave small distilleries the opportunity to sell their products and offer free half-ounce tastings on-site.

Dr. Jones’ research is directed towards small and midsized farms of western Washington. The goal of the western Washington breeding program is to ensure the long-term environmental and economic health of farming in Washington state while producing a food crop that is safe and high in nutritional value.

In the Fremont area of Seattle, Mike Sherlock and Patti Bishop, owners of Mischief Distillery are delighting customers with their versions of fine whiskey, vodka and gin. They have been distilling and sharing creations with their community for over 20 years. Their company builds awareness and educates visitors on the importance of the farmer and brewer relationships in Washington State.

Fremont Mischief partners with neighboring farms in King and Island Counties to ensure local ingredients are used to produce their specialty whiskey, gin and vodka spirits.

Sunset Review

Inside Seattle: New distilleries; Dec'12; Mischief
Inside Seattle: New distilleries; Dec’12; Mischief

The Craftsman-style windows and the Prohibition-era memorabilia in his tasting room hint at distiller Mike Sherlock’s past as a houseboat builder and his fascination with the 1920s and ’30s. Sherlock, a Whidbey Island native, uses winter wheat sourced from Whidbey’s Ebey Road Farm to make vodka and gin, and Eastern Washington rye for two Prohibition-style (heavy on the rye) whiskeys. The aged John Jacob is named after his great-grandfather-in-law, who was a basement distiller during the Depression.

Read the whole review here

Best of the West – Sunset Magazine

As featured in Sunset Magazine | May 2013

75 reasons to love the West

The top people, places, things, and trends that make us happy to live here now.

Genius in a bottle.

Sunset John JacobThe beverages we’re loving:
Fremont Mischief John Jacob Whiskey
(pictured). Distilled in Seattle with rye grown in Washington and Oregon. $33;

Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom Vodka.Infused with mandarin blossoms plucked in Exeter, CA. $25;

High West Whiskey Rendezvous Rye.
Blended at Utah’s first (legal, ahem) distillery to open since 1870. $50;
Re:Find Vodka. Distilled from grapes grown in Paso Robles, CA, instead of the traditional potatoes or grain.$35;

Leopold Bros. Rocky Mountain Liqueur.Four-plus pounds of Denver black­berries in each bottle. $37;

Sergeant Classick Gold Rum. Made from Hawaiian molasses, distilled in Mountain View, CA. $30;

Pok Pok Som Drinking Vinegar. Crafted from Northwest raspberries and great splashed into drinks or over ice cream.$15;

’Tude Juice Pinky’tude Apple Juice.Made with not-too-sweet Cripps Pinks from Yakima Valley, WA. From $3;

And the rest of the list……

  • The Grand Canyon, even grander
  • Everyday, handmade
  • Artisanal compost
  • Amazing flavors
  • We’ve given a great artist a great home
  • That Hawaiian sound
  • Artisanal chocolate ups its game
  • We love a comeback
  • Our backdoor national park
  • We’re done apologizing for our bagels
  • A new kind of jazz club
  • Grist for the mill
  • Locally sourced body products
  • We’re inspiring future scientists
  • Foraging made easy
  • Heaven in a bowl
  • Local lettuce, year-round
  • Our portal to the final frontier
  • Zin is back
  • The tiniest garden
  • Architectural eye candy
  • Floral find
  • Over-the-top DIY
  • Cutting-edge gadget
  • Dessert wine makes waves
  • Eco innovation
  • Sweet treats
  • Dazzling public art
  • CSAs that always surprise
  • Public transit goes bigger
  • Land worth protecting
  • Super-gorgeous cycling
  • Feel-good farmed salmon
  • Bottles with park perks
  • Best. Socks. Ever.
  • Michael Pollan keeps changing the way we eat
  • Denver changes beer—again
  • Top-notch beer isn’t limited to Denver
  • Your Lego palace awaits
  • The sharing economy keeps growing
  • The next food truck craze
  • A smarter way to drink wine
  • The chicken coop is the new doghouse
  • Gifts from the seaEnjoy gifts from the sea
  • Wineries as the ultimate playgrounds
  • Tea hits the big time
  • Bike nation
  • Cocktail catering
  • Nurseries are the new bookstores
  • The jam explosion
  • Urban wineries
  • Farming 2.0
  • Western cheeses, bigger than ever
  • Gear made here
  • Mushroom fever
  • Loving your lawn
  • Food truck on the brink
  • Most worth-it homesteading trend
  • The B&B shows its sexy side
  • Game-changing urban farming
  • Experience trumps consumption
  • Inspired salvage
  • Pop-up parks
  • Dinner at the bar
  • Everyone can be a cheesemaker here
  • Veggie vacations
  • Soft-serve grows up
  • Oceanside oysters
  • Two-wheeled businesses
  • Green hotels hit the mainstream
  • Olive oil, within reach
  • The new motor lodges
  • The case for Disneyland
  • Dark skies, our last best place

Read the Full Article Online…


Sip Northwest: Best of 2012

Sip Best offBest of Industry Influencers: Mike Sherlock, Fremont Mischief Distillery.

Mike and Still

It would be hard to find a more archetypical Seattleite then Mike Sherlock. For almost 30 years, Sherlock fished for salmon in Bristol Bay and for crab in the Bering Sea. He also owned a shipyard near Gasworks Park that built and outfitted everything from skiffs to factory trawlers, and he still runs a houseboat business in Ballard that constructs floating arts and craft-style residences. But it’s the latest addition to the resume of this quintessential Northwest resident that underscores a new and growing direction in the region: Mike Sherlock makes whiskey.

Read the full article…

12 Local Spirits You Must Taste

Seattle MagSeattle magazine:
Our picks for the Washington state top shelf.

A.J. Rathbun  |   December 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION


Ebb+Flow Vodka
Headlong White Dog Whiskey
Legacy Vodka
Pacifique Absinthe
Grappa Giallo
Washington Wheat Whiskey
Voyager Dry Gin
Samish Bay Whiskey
Skip Rock Vodka
Chilean-style Brandy
Hedge Trimmer Gin

Fremont Mischief Whiskey

With a rye base, this whiskey, aged for eight years, features spiciness mingling with oak and a sweet vanilla and caramel finale.
Mischief Distillery Fremont, 132 N Canal St.;


See the full Article. 

The Daily Sip: Fremont Mischief Rex Velvet “Sinister Spirit” Beet Vodka

SPIRIT FRIDAY: Fremont Mischief Distillery Rex Velvet “Sinister Spirit” Beet Vodka

by Erin Thomas


That’s a mouthful and so is this limited edition specialty vodka by Fremont Mischief. The spirit is dazzlingly infused with beet juice for a menacing veneer in the glass to match its muse – Rex Velvet, Seattle’s villainous answer to the city’s faux crime-fighter, Phoenix Jones. The Sinister Spirit Beet Vodka isn’t quite the sparkling spirit seen in Rex’s inaugural video but it certainly has flickers on its own accord with tangy sweet red beet and a creamy wheat mouthfeel. Feeling sinister? Try it neat like Rex does.


Posted on Sip Northwest

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Seattle Met Review


      Fremont Mischief Brings a Playful-Yet-Serious Spirit to the Ship Canal Corridor

Mike Sherlock gives a rueful laugh when he says that his Fremont Mischief distillery was supposed to be a retirement adventure. While more fun than the Lake Union shipyard he ran for 17 years—“we’re always smiling at work now”—it’s still a full-time job. Walking me around the converted warehouse property on Canal Street, he points out various plans: a stage to host concerts, an auxiliary building to expand into a bar.

If the future outside seems daunting, the history inside is impressive. He tells me it took three years to turn the dusty brick and stone factory into the shiny distillery it is today. And it was all done by a close-knit crew of family and friends.

The Fremont Mischief team is very DIY.

Sherlock designed and laser cut metal pieces that adorn the front of the building or serve as grating for the drains inside. His wife Patti handles the marketing and PR. The graphic design and website were done by their son Jon. It’s not just family: The guys working at the distillery came along from the shipyard where Sherlock built floating homes and on-ship factories (handy skills when cramming a distillery into a small space).

Despite his distillery’s name, Sherlock is hardly irreverent. He evinces passion for Fremont and the community. When a project requires outside help, for example airbrushing pinup-style art, Sherlock calls up UW and hires a student with the necessary skills. Figures of crows perched realistically on the roof came from renowned Seattle artist Andrew Carson, who also created a kinetic spinning-wheel sculpture for the inside. Tucked away here and there in the tiny tasting room I spy boxes of Chukar cherries. Mike wants the distillery and its new tasting room to be a neighborhood destination.

Read the whole review

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