Distillery Watch

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

Are you sick of the puns yet?

By Brian Colella December 12, 2011


From our Guide to Washington’s Craft Distilleries: Who Fremont Mischief (132 N Canal St), makers of John Jacob rye whiskey—a family heirloom, Fremont Mischief Whiskey—aged in oak barrels for several years, and 80-proof Fremont Mischief Vodka. The vodka and both whiskeys are available at state liquor stores. Mischief also has plans for gin and rum in 2012. When Stop by the wood-paneled tasting room Wednesday–Saturday 11–6 and Sunday from 11 to 5.

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.

Click through the slideshow for more, including Mike’s recommendations for how best to drink their spirits.

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