- Brand: James E. Pepper
- ABV: 45.65%
I haven't had many James E Pepper offerings. There is a barrel proof non age stated rye and a few different bourbons available, but today is a special day.
The 1776 brand has a complex story written on the bottle. I don't know what the correct ratio of truth to marketing is, but i what i do know is that this is 15 year Indiana rye bottled from hand selected barrels to match an "old style" flavor. The rye content is at least 90% and this was bottled at barrel proof without chill filtering. Also Mr. Pepper was a Colonel, so he outranks Sgt. Pepper (take that imperialist Britain!).
I opened this bottle at my lake house last year. Others seemed to have found it and it is now about 1/3 full (yes Americans are optimists on our holiday).
Color is a dark rose gold, definitely aged in charred oak.
Nose: Wonderful rye character is immediate. Cherry, orange, and leather swap positions. I give my glass a swirl and ponder on the Kentucky derby. Lovely white pepper and dill pull ahead while oak stays in the middle of the pack. Light floral rose and jasmine surge for a moment and then fade. A few minutes have passed and i have yet to take a sip. Banana and caramel comingled with more rye. The nose continues to sweeten as time passes, but it is always strong and full of character.
Taste: God bless America. This is good. The style matches somewhere between the willet and pikesville rye. It is on the sweeter side including honey, liquorice, and cereal, but still has plenty of pepper and spice. The wood provides an excellent base for all of the flavors and ties everything together.
Finish: Warming and spicy, but no burn. Rye is here, but fruit dominates. Orange peel without the bitterness. Pineapple rind. Big red gum. The flavors fade into candied rye.
Balance: Excellent throughout and one of the best ryes I've ever had. I am usually happy with one glass of any whisky, but this one begs for another.