James E Pepper 1776 Straight Rye Whiskey is an historic American Rye Whiskey which was re-introduced into the marketplace in 2008 but whose roots can be traced back much further.
The brand is named after the legendary Kentucky Colonel James E Pepper, the man for whom it is said the Old Fashioned cocktail was invented. He was the third generation of his family to produce “Old Pepper” whisky, “The Oldest and Best Brand of Whisky made in Kentucky”, founded in 1780 during the American Revolution. It was also was fondly known as “Old 1776”. The Colonel built the historic distillery in Lexington, Kentucky in 1879 and ran it until his death in 1906. The distillery continued in various guises but the Bourbon business suffered a decline in the 1950s and the distillery finally closed in 1958 and fell into disrepair.
In 2008 entrepreneur Amir Peay bought the historic distillery site in Lexington, founding the James Pepper Distilling Co. The brand was launched the brand in 2008 and, in 2017, distilling recommenced at the site. Peay spent years researching the brand and the new still system was designed and built (by Vendome Copper in Louisville) to resemble the original mechanical engineering drawings from the last system built in 1934. Today they produce both Bourbon and Rye whiskies and use the same bourbon mash bill as when the plant closed in 1958. They also produce Old Henry Clay Whiskey.
James E Pepper 1776 Straight Rye Whiskey had over 90% Rye in the Mash Bill, it is aged in new, charred American oak and bottled non chill-filtered and bottled at 46% ABV / 92 proof. As the new distillery builds up stocks of spirit, the whisky is currently sourced from the MGP Distillery in Lawrenceberg, Indiana.