About – James E. Pepper is one of many historic bourbon brands that has been purchased and relaunched during the recent surge in bourbon popularity. The 1776 label dates back to the civil war and was even a favorite of Ulysses S. Grant as well as Andrew Jackson. The modern iteration is an extremely high rye recipe (38%) that is distilled for James E. Pepper by MGP. The finished product is aged 6 years and bottled at 92 proof with a price around $30- $35. This bourbon won the Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco Word Spirits Competition in 2013.
Nose – Dark fruit, mildly reminiscent of a dark red wine, an uncanny hint of smoke. It is clear from the nose that this is a very high rye content bourbon.
Palate – Not sure exactly what I was expecting, but the first taste was definitely a curveball, leading me to regroup and give this bourbon another go. On the second taste I am picking up dark honey and the dark fruit from the nose. If you can’t tell so far this bourbon leans on a deep, dark profile.
Finish – A decent amount of oak followed by a burst of characteristic rye spice, followed by more of the sweet dark fruit fading out slowly for a nice long and luscious finish.
Score – B-
Verdict – By no means is this your typical bourbon, but it is a tasty and unique pour. Due to the unique flavor profile I could see this bourbon being very polarizing, and would recommend trying it at a bar before picking up a bottle. It probably isn’t for everyone, but if it sounds like a flavor profile that is up your alley, go for it.