Just got in some brand new releases from James E. Pepper including: a high rye content bourbon, a 15 year bourbon and a cask strength 15 year rye. The two year rye, which I’ve stocked for a few months now, was a revelation in quality. It’s bottled at 100 proof and non-chill filtered allowing it to retain a lot of the body, texture and complexity chill filtration removes. It reminds me a lot of the Willett Family Estate rye which has an intensely floral-perfumey spice profile with notes of lavender, jasmine, cloves, peppercorns and fennel. The James E. Pepper brand dates all the way back to 1776, the Revolutionary War era. Washington DC based Georgetown Trading Co. decided to re-launch the brand and spent countless hours gathering original bottlings and researching the original recipes and techniques. The whiskies they settled on are distilled in Indiana, by LDI, and are very much in tune with what whiskies of the time may have been like, given the high rye content, bottled in bond style proofing and non-chill filtration. Here are my tasting notes on the two new 15 year releases:
James E. Pepper 15 Year Barrel Strength Rye
-On the nose I get notes of cinnamon, fennel, marzipan, leather, honey suckle and lavender. Pretty intense aromas with a fair amount of charred oak coming through. On the palate I get notes of baklava, cinnamon buns, toffee, fennel, peppercorns, sweet tobacco, buttery scones and lavender. The flavors are vibrant but surprisingly well integrated. The oak is there but never crosses the line, super soft and engaging tannins. The finish is long and spicy, pretty typical of a great LDI rye.
James E. Pepper 15 Year Bourbon
-This bourbon comes in at a whopping 38% rye content which really comes through on the nose with notes of gravel, mint, charred oak, dulce de leche and apricot preserves. The aromas were as vibrant as the 15 year rye with just a little hint of fruitiness separating the two. On the palate I get notes of lavender candy, vanilla, orange zest, salt water taffy, dates, fudge and toasted almonds. The flavors on this are extremely well layered and evolve with every sip. The finish has a distinct gravelly-earthiness which draws you in for more.
Stocks this old are extremely hard to come by, which means the older bottlings won’t last long. Fortunately the younger bourbon and rye are quite good as well. All are worth a try if you get a chance.
Available at Castro and Clement St. Shops