Classification: Straight Rye Finished in Heavily Toasted Barrels
Company: James Pepper Distilling Co.
Age: 3 Years
Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley
MSRP: $80 (2019)
The Old Pepper Distillery is rich with history. Assigned DSP-KY-5, its roots date back to 1780 when the distillery was first established. James E. Pepper was a third generation distiller, and operated the distillery until 1939 when he passed away. In 1958, the distillery fell on hard times and shut down. In 2008, Amir Peay of Georgetown Trading Co. acquired rights to the brand and began efforts to bring it back to life. In the meantime, whiskeys have been sourced from MGP in Indiana.
Nose: Orange peel, black pepper, and black licorice give way to a potent rye spice. Balanced in its delivery and quintessentially rye.
Palate: Ginger root and orange peel combined with young oak. Full bodied and nicely developed.
Finish: Black peppercorns, rye spice, and a rush of cinnamon. Sweeter notes of cotton candy and caramel develop on the backend. Long.
This particular release is from batch number K02. It’s surprising how developed and balanced it is for being only three years old. While there are plenty of young MGP ryes on the market, exceptional ones are still few and far between. This bottle fits the bill. Well-rounded and nicely balanced, it surprises with just how good it is for its age. The secondary finishing in heavily toasted barrels might have something to do with that, and further helps distinguish this bottling from the vast MGP 95% rye crowd. While the history behind James E. Pepper is interesting and I’m excited to taste what comes out of the restored distillery in the future, this bottle of sourced whiskey stands on its own nonetheless.
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of James E. Pepper Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to it with no strings attached.