I was recently sent two bottles of Old Pepper Bottled-in-Bond whiskeys. There is a bottle of Bourbon and a bottle of Rye whiskey. James E. Pepper was, along with his friend E. H. Taylor, Jr., a leader in getting the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 passed, so I was excited to receive these bottles. Amir Peay, the owner of the James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington, Kentucky, also sent me a document with a flow chart of the whiskeys that he makes at the distillery. It has some interesting information. He makes four Bourbons – One of them is made with 51% corn/45%rye/4%rye malt, the next is made with 51%corn/49%rye malt, the third is made with 51%corn/ 49% malted barley and the last is made with 80%corn/8%rye/12% barley malt. He also makes two rye whiskeys. The first is made with 95%rye/5% rye malt and the other is made with 100% rye malt. He marries these recipes together in bottling his whiskeys. Matt and I sat down and tasted the whiskeys and here are our tasting notes.
Old Pepper Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Corn, Vanilla, blackberries, citrus, honey, baking spices, oak wood.
- Matt: Buttery corn, salted caramel, lemon, oak wood.
- Mike: Corn, vanilla, blackberries, citrus, cinnamon, nutmeg, oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and rich caramel and raspberries join the party. Tasted with a pecan and there is a nice buttered toffee, chocolate and black pepper spice that comes through to join the blackberries and citrus.
- Matt: Earl Grey tea, vanilla, lemon, berries and oak wood. The dried cranberry made the berries a nice strawberry and lemonade with cardamom spice. The pecan brought out notes of peanut M&Ms and brown sugar.
- Mike: Medium long with oak wood, tobacco, spice and lingering vanilla sweetness. The dried cranberry made the finish longer with oak wood, cinnamon and lingering citrus notes. The pecan made the finish very long with oak, pepper spice and lingering chocolate.
- Matt: Medium long with oak and salted caramel. The dried cranberry added cardamom spice to the finish. The pecan made the finish very long with oak and French burnt peanuts.
Old Pepper Bottled-in-Bond Rye
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Rye grass, caramel, dark fruits- plums, prunes and raisins, baking spices, oak wood.
- Matt: Strawberry lemonade, vanilla, sea salt, and oak wood.
- Mike: Rye grass, caramel, dark fruits- raisins and plums, cinnamon and allspice, oak wood. The dried cranberry brought out notes of chocolate and blackberries while reducing the spice. The pecan brought out notes of apple Jolly Rancher candy, vanilla, milk chocolate, and cinnamon spice.
- Matt: Cotton candy, lemon, sea salt and oak wood. The dried cranberry brought out flavors of vanilla and lemonade. The pecan brought out flavors of caramel, brown sugar and enhanced the oak wood.
- Mike: Medium long with oak, spice and lingering dark fruit sweetness. The dried cranberry made the finish shorter and sweeter with oak and dark fruit. The pecan made the finish very long and dry with oak and spice.
- Matt: Medium long with oak, lemon and brown sugar sweetness. The dried cranberry made the finish shorter with oak, and lingering lemon and salt. The pecan made the finish very long and a slightly oily with oak and lingering brown sugar.
I would pair these two whiskeys with a Padron Maduro cigar. The rich vanilla and caramel with a hint of fruit in the smoke would pair well with the sweetness of these whiskeys.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller and James Pepper Distillery