January 27, 2022

Q+A With Jacob Call – Master Distiller

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. 

Jacob Call

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 it’s 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.

Jacob Call

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 the Green River distillery 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 an eighth-generation Kentuckian and distiller, playing a role in reviving this historic distillery has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Jacob Call

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 breathe the whiskey to make it good.

What is your favorite cocktail?

I prefer my bourbon in a glass with two ice cubes. But occasionally, if someone else is making it, I’ll enjoy a Manhattan or a classic Old Fashioned.

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

2022 is a big year because it marks the release of our Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. For the first time in more than 100 years, Green River bourbon is flowing inside the walls of its original home, and I’m thrilled to have whiskey lovers taste our flagship product.