Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Jeptha Creed Distillery
Distillery: Jeptha Creed Distillery
Release Date: Ongoing
Age: 4 Years
Mashbill: 25% Bloody Butcher Heirloom Corn, 25% Heirloom White Corn, 25% Bruce’s Blue Heirloom Corn, 20% Malted Rye, 5% Malted Barley
MSRP: $75 (2023)
Jeptha Creed Distillery is located in Shelbyville, Kentucky and is operated by mother and daughter team Joyce and Autumn Nethery. The farm distillery sits on 64 acres and produces a number of grains for their bourbons, including an impressive amount of heirloom crops. Three of these heirloom grains are where the bourbon gets its name: red for Bloody Butcher corn, white for white corn, and blue for Bruce’s blue corn. These colors also correlate to the colors of the American flag, and because of this connective tissue, Jeptha Creed Distillery donates a portion of the proceeds of this release to support veterans.
Warm caramel is gently accented with scents of strawberry and pear. The aroma transitions to more natural scents of fresh cut grass, dry autumn leaves, and cedar. It manages a good balance of sweet and fruity against more earthy scents. The result is an aroma that has a little for everyone, yet manages to stand out for its distinctiveness. Solid intensity gives the bourbon’s nose a good deal of presence as it wafts out of the glass.
Caramel continues into the palate and the sweet fruitiness of the nose is replaced by a richer stone fruit medley. Plum and black cherry are joined by a deeper layer of pecan and brown butter. The palate is delivered with a buttery mouthfeel that allows the flavors to linger on your tongue and further open up. As they do, the effect of the Bloody Butcher corn begins to take hold by introducing a light smoke element and a gentle coarseness foreshadowing what's to soon come.
A pivot to earthiness gets underway during the finish and its arresting. Long leather and tobacco notes combined with root vegetables and chai tea, cap this bourbon off with a unique style. The finish is careful to never reach roasted territory and stays more on the fresh side. It is medium in length, with a slight drop-off in flavor and a minor rise in ethanol, but the lingering earthy flavors continue to be the highlight of the sip and do a great job selling this bourbon.
We’ve been seeing a lot more farm - or as they are sometimes called, estate distilleries - pop up over the past few years. In the majority of these cases, these farm distilleries aren’t new and are exactly the opposite, often having been established decades prior. Perhaps the reason we’re hearing more from them is that the bourbon market has finally matured and drinkers are finally able to embrace them.
“Farm to glass,” “soil to glass,” or similar farm distillery phrases mirror what professional chefs have been broadcasting for years, but can now come off as tiresome because they’re overused or empty promises. Within bourbon, farm distilleries such as Hillrock Estate, Starlight, Frey Ranch, and Jeptha Creed have had a slow and steady rise. With the wine term “terroir” becoming more and more prevalent in regard to bourbon, the value of “homegrown” and “hands on” are starting to resonate with more and more bourbon drinkers.
The reason for it is that they taste and smell differently and shed the cookie cutter mentality many have come to expect from large mainstream bourbon distilleries. It only takes a whiff or a taste of Jeptha Creed to notice there’s something else going on with their whiskey. Their whiskeys carry an earthiness to them. While that can be a phrase that can scare people, Jeptha Creed bourbon is careful not to overdo it. This isn’t bourbon’s direct answer to the earthiness that you’d find in a mezcal, particular styles of gin, or a funky Jamaican rum, but it helps bring a similar texture and complexity to its flavor. Too often with bourbon, earthiness and freshness are a result of youthfulness. Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Straight Bourbon doesn’t give off that sense whatsoever. My guess is that it has a lot to do with Jeptha Creed homegrown grains and which ones they choose to create their bourbons with.
If you asked someone who has never drank bourbon before to describe what they think it tastes like, I feel that they would likely describe something similar to Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Straight Bourbon. I don’t think most people would expect bourbon to taste so sweet and fruity, or spicy and heavily oaked that so many modern bourbons often do. Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Bourbon has a lot of classic bourbon elements to it, but thanks to its literal down-to-earth flavor profile, it is able to put its own unique modern twist on it and could very well develop into the distillery signature style: a restraint of sweetness, select fruitiness, limited spice, and a strong baseline of earthiness.
There is no doubt that many will find Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Straight Bourbon’s $75 asking price for a 4 year old, 100 proof bourbon from a relative newcomer on the market impossible to overcome. It’s actually priced in the middle of its peers, with Starlight and Frey Ranch at $50 and $60 respectively, and Hillrock Estate at $90. But as any experienced bourbon drinker knows, if it tastes good, that goes a long way to justifying any price.
After tasting Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Straight Bourbon I immediately thought the price was respectable for what was on offer. It’s no doubt high for its stat line, but remember this isn’t sourced, and includes five in-house grown grains. Very few producers are offering something similar which inevitably comes at a cost to Jeptha Creed. Its bespoke mashbill and unique style inherently adds value and my overall satisfaction with this bourbon makes it a definite buy for me.
Jeptha Creed Distillery offers a unique style of bourbon that goes a long way towards making the case for farm distilleries and the distinctiveness they can offer with their product.
Right out of the gate there’s something special going on with Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Straight Bourbon. First, this bourbon’s nose is quite special, but not in the usual ways. It forgoes more typical bourbon scents and overly sweet fruity ones for a very down to earth aroma. Even better, the rest of the sip follows the nose's lead. It’s down to earth, rustic and earthy, but doesn’t come across as artificial, young, or overdone. This particular style of bourbon might not be for everyone, as many bourbon consumers have come to expect overly sweet or spicy bourbons nowadays. Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Straight Bourbon is quite the opposite of that, but is able to offer something unique in the middle ground. There is often the claim of how important it is for a distillery to control all aspects of their process, especially the growing of their grain, and Jeptha Creed Red, White & Blue Straight Bourbon is an excellent example of this in action.