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- Brand: James E. Pepper
- ABV: 50%
Elijah Pepper began distilling whiskey in 1776, at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. During the War of 1812 he built the first log cabin distillery in Versailles, Kentucky. Eventually, he passed the family business on to his son, Oscar, and then on to his grandson, James E. Pepper. Among those who, in the 19th century, called Pepper Whiskey (or “Old 1776 Whiskey” as it became known) a favourite were Presidents Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant. However, the success did not last and in 1958 the James E. Pepper distillery was closed when the bourbon industry fell on hard times; the aged stocks were sold off into the 1970s. A few years ago the James E. Pepper brand was acquired and re-launched by the Georgetown Trading Company which had done extensive historical research and apparently spent years collecting and sampling original and perfectly preserved James E. Pepper whiskey. Referencing to the material collected they began distilling new James E. Pepper whiskey, both bourbon and rye variations. For this rye expression James E. Pepper uses a MGP (Midwest Grain Products) straight rye whiskey with a 95% rye mash bill (the rest is malted barley); the whiskey is aged for a minimum of three years before being bottled.
The nose is rich, and full of caramel and fudge. Then there are apricots and peaches, followed by distinct mint flavours. All in all this is a very fruity and quite fragrant nose.
The palate is medium-bodied and spicy. The dominant element here is rye bread, together with notes of mint and oranges.
The finish is surprisingly long and quite spicy, with notes of vanilla, lemon, and chocolate being the main players at this stage.
Compared with the other (admittedly few) rye whiskeys that I have tried this James E. Pepper expression was very sweet and fruity. It was not bad, in fact not bad at all, but at the end of the day I missed the punchiness that I have grown to love with rye whiskies. What is more, the minty flavours got to a point where they became too much for me. I opened my bottle two months ago and at the time of writing it is about half full, so if fellow connosr member @Victor is correct this might get better after a few more months. For the time being, however, I consider this certainly worth trying once in your life but it is definitely not my favourite rye whiskey.