As Green River’s Master Distiller, eighth-generation Kentuckian and distiller Jacob Call oversees all aspects of the distillery’s whiskey production and warehousing. We took a moment to ask Jacob some questions about Green River, his family legacy, and what whisky means to him. We’ll plan to check-in with Jacob once in a while with questions, so if you have anything you’re curious about, feel free to share!
What is a typical day of a master distiller?
I start my day at the distillery before I even get out of my truck in the morning. I can tell a lot just by looking at the distillery from the outside. Right when I pull through the gate, I look around to see if everything is running as it should. Especially on a cold day, I look to see where the steam is coming from and can see if the boilers are running as they should, etc.
As soon as I walk in, I grab my tasting glass. People always think its odd that I have whiskey before coffee, but that way, my palate is fresh. I normally start by tasting the previous day’s batch. I make sure everything tastes right before the whiskey even hits a barrel.
Then I take a walk around the distillery. I check-in with our teams to make sure our plans for the day are set, and can troubleshoot any issues. I look forward to the face-to-face part of running a distillery. Distilling is a team job, and we all work together to make the best whiskey we can.
Then, I loop back to my office for my first cup of coffee. The rest of the day bounces between the lab – whether it be tasting various samples or approving something or bottling – and the production floor. I also focus on planning out production, what mash bill we’re going to run and when. And then one of my favorite things to do is brainstorm new blends and techniques we’re going to try.
What’s your favorite thing about working at a distillery?
My favorite thing about working at a distillery, and Green River in particular, is connecting to the history of the place. People have been distilling on these grounds since before the turn of the 20thcentury. It happens to be my turn now, and I hope to leave my own legacy here.
What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about whiskey?
Just one thing? Impossible! For me, it’s history. It’s camaraderie – we’re one big family at the distillery. The fact that whiskey is bigger than just one person – it takes a lot of people to make it happen.
My least favorite thing is bourbon that people buy to sit on a shelf unopened. Bourbon should be shared with friends and families. It’s made to be enjoyed.
What does the revival of Green River mean to you?
Green River was known for its quality whiskey, and we’re proud to bring the same commitment to the best ingredients, craftsmanship and tradition today. We’re excited to be crafting bourbon and rye under the Green River flag again. As a third-generation distiller and seventh-generation Kentuckian, playing a role in reviving this historic distillery has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As someone with a family history in distilling, what is the one of the most important things you learned?
I think the most important lesson I learned from my father and grandfather, who were both distillers, is to be hands-on. Walk around the distillery, don’t get stuck behind a desk. You have to live and breath the whiskey to make it good.
What is your favorite cocktail?
I prefer my bourbon in a glass with two ice cubes. But once-in-a-while, if someone else is making it, a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned is nice.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
I think we’re all looking toward 2021 with a sense of optimism on what comes next.
I’m looking forward to welcoming more visitors to the distillery when folks feel comfortable travelling again. We have been open for limited tours, following all protocols, but we’re definitely looking forward to having more folks come and see the revived Green River.
2021 will also mark the release of our Green River Bourbon, which we’re really looking forward to getting out there. It’s so exciting to have whiskey lovers taste what we’ve been working on these past years.