There seems to be an upsurge in Bourbon and especially the Rye side over here in the Uk, many of my whisky friends are starting to take a closer look at the liquids coming from the states.
Is this because we want to understand better the complexities of the liquid the cask held previous to maturing the whisky we are drinking or simply because the prices of whisky are rising at such a rapid rate we need to find something alternative to drink…
Rye is notoriously hard to make using conventional whisky making techniques and equipment but the rewards can be exceptional if you get things right.
Over the last 2 years or so i have started to look into Rye and tried to understand the complexities within the drink and to some extent i have began to understand the draw of a good Rye.
Established in 1780 this distillery gained an iconic status which is obvious to see when you start to look back into the history. Sadly today the distillery name might not carry the same weight and iconic status it once held it certainly should be somewhere in the back of your mind if you are at all into Bourbon / Whiskey..
Being one of the oldest whiskey brands in Kentucky and American whiskey history this all starts with Elijah Pepper who was the distiller between 1780 and 1838 before his son Oscar Pepper takes over as the distiller from 1838 until 1867, Oscar’s son Colonel James E. Pepper became the distiller in 1867 and carried on the family traditions until his death on the 24th December 1906, James was the 3rd generation of that distilling legacy and the last as he had no children to carry on the legacy and his widowed wife sold the distillery to investors. The name carried on and the distillery became well known for sponsoring some of the larger horse races and sporting events including boxing where on July 4th 1910 Jack Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight Champion of the world successfully defended his title
After Prohibition ended the distillery re opens and production is at full steam as they say, and after a fire devastates the distillery is re built and becomes one of the biggest whiskey brands of the time.
1958 sees the end of an era for the James E Pepper brand as the distillery falls upon hard times and production is stopped, the stocks are all sold off..
50 years later Entrepreneur Amir Peay, founder and owner of the Georgetown Trading Co Starts to form a love affair with the history of the brand and begins the long process of re building this former giant back into a reality.. May 4th, 2016 is the date the distillery dream came back to life with the announcement that the James E Pepper distillery would be re built as a craft distillery and museum within the remains of the old distillery and grounds.
Batch 3 – 4 year old Rye
Nose.. Like any good Rye this is about those spices. The spice notes interact perfectly with freshly sawn cedar and fallen pine needles on the forest floor. Dark chocolate and a wisp of dates go nicely with some espresso coffee notes and the subtle hint of aniseed hides away.
Palate.. The spices are evident along with the chocolate note but there also comes a sweetness with the palate.. Vanilla and burnt toffee along with muscovado sugar and candied orange work in harmony and fleeting in and out there is a nice earthiness like you get from Manuka honey.
Finish.. Lingering spices and earthy notes
Thoughts.. I like this.. I like this a lot !!!!
For an alternative view go check out the thoughts of Matt at The Dramble..