James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye

"Incredibly fresh and lovely rye with not that much spices or sweetness, which I might be sipping during a hot evenings during the next summer"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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The James E. Pepper brand is, you might have guessed, named after the Colonel James E. Pepper, who was master distiller of the original family brand that was at its time the largest bourbon producer in the United States. In 1958 production at the original distillery in Lexington ceased and the brand disappeared from the shelves, until Amir Peay relaunched it in 2008. The original distillery, which was in a deplorable state, was reconstructed and restarted distilling in 2017. Obviously, it will take some years before we will be able to taste matured spirit from the restarted distillery, however, we can already enjoy their blending (and re-casking) capabilities. Let’s start with their sourced rye, which as expected originates from the Lawrenceburg-based MGP of Indiana distillery.


Incredibly fresh with lots of aniseed and mint. I must say I never encountered a rye that was this fresh and summery, albeit that I tested only a few. The freshness continues into a light caramel, mint chocolate, and an array of different types of liquorice and liquorice root. It might be simple and soft, and friendly, but I like it very much. There is also some ginger and cardamon to be found, which add a spicy side.


Muchos mint. Well, we could have expected that based on the nose. Supplemented with liquorice, peppermint, mint chocolates and, surprisingly, chopped persil. Indeed it becomes a bit veggie in the development. Overall it is not overly complex, but very tasty and a good everyday no-nonsense rye.


Incredibly fresh rye with not that much spices, and virtually no sweetness. Although the complexity might not be that high, and there is a sense of a young age rye, I like it quite a lot. I guess it does what it is supposed to do for this price. Lovely simplicity and I can imagine vividly that I have a glass of this on a hot summer evening.

What others say

Whiskybase: 81.78 (34 votes) * Serge Valentin @Whiskyfun: 84/100 * @TheWhiskeyJug: 84/100 * @TheWhiskeyWash: 91/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!


these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
Nose 87%
Taste 86%
Balance 86%
Depth 85%
Finish 86.5%