Veteran Rye Review: James E. Pepper “1776 Rye”


MGP, Pepper Distillery

Mash bill

95% Rye and 5% Malted Barley


3-4 Years


100 Proof


MSRP $30, Purchase Price $30 (2023)

“Purchase James E. Pepper 1776 at Caskers Here!”

Official Product Website

History – Renowned Bourbon industrialist and flashy spokesman for his family’s brand was Colonel James E. Pepper (1850–1906). The “Oldest and Best Brand of Whiskey Made in Kentucky,” Old Pepper, was created in 1780 during the American Revolution. Col. Pepper, who was also a well-known and keen horseman, commanded the premier stable in Kentucky. This 1776 Rye has lived up to its predecessor “Old 1776” winning the 2019 Double Gold /  2021 Gold Medal in San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Value – Well worth the $30 price tag. What a great find here.

Appearance – The bottle displays that nostalgic pre-prohibition look. The body is more slender toward the bottom than the top. It has a medium-length neck that’s capped with a cork. The label gives me the shivers of patriotism. It just seems like something our founding fathers may have sipped. The bottle is so dark you can’t tell the color of the rye inside.

Nose – Honey, citrus, and possibly a hint of oak or maple wood, finishing with a trace of spice. I can say that this is a nicely put-together nose.

Palate – Honey with an undertone of citrus. The cinnamon warmth lingers, although it’s not overpowering; it’s just right. As with the nose, this is a well-meshed palate.

Finish – The finish has a lovely honey-oak combination that’s not too shabby. The only other thing going on here is a lingering spiciness at the end, which is never an awful finish. However, it may not be the finest either, depending on how you like it.

Summary – In summary, “1776 Rye” provides class and well-crafted rye with this edition. 1776 just so happened to catch my eye on the bottom shelf as I looked through the aisle. Folks, James E. Pepper has a hidden gem here and I’m striving to make the whiskey community aware of it.

“I, for one, am astounded by the results of this review. Every element of the review had me ready for the next stage. I have never seen nor heard of this rye and I can confidently say that I am glad that I have now. I hope to try the rest of their products.

Eric Watkins

Uniqueness- 1-10 – 6

Appearance- 1-10 – 8

Nose- 1-20 – 13

Palate- 1-20 – 15

Finish- 1-20 – 12

Value- 1-20 – 16


“Purchase James E. Pepper 1776 at Caskers Here!”

Reviewed by:

Eric Watkins on 02/15/2023

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