Between the two wars, there was a man with a vision in Versailles. The two wars were the American Revolution and the War of 1812, this Versailles was in Kentucky, and the visionary in question was Elijah Pepper. He was a Bourbon distiller who passed his family business to his son and grandson. The latter one was James E. Pepper, a colonel, a Bourbon aristocrat, and the creator of the Old Fashioned cocktail. His distillery was a powerhouse until 1958, when the entire industry fell on its knees.
But the Old 1776 Whiskey, a favorite of Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant, could not lay in oblivion forever, because good things tend to come back. Amir Peay, an entrepreneur from Georgetown decided to re-found the historic James E. Pepper Distillery and revive the brand. He spent years researching and analyzing the recipes and preserved bottles, and in 2008, the legend was back.
The 1776 Straight Bourbon is made from corn, malted barley and rye, mixed carefully in the ratios written down in a letter by Pepper himself. After they distill the Bourbon, they put it in virgin American oak casks and age it for at least three years. When one opens this precious bottle, hints of vanilla and caramel come through, accompanied by the notes of oak and spices. Peay used traditional methods championed by Pepper while restoring this Bourbon, which brought him a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013. And rightfully so.
I’ve tried this bourbon straight and I’ve tried it mixed. No matter what I do to it, it just does not taste good. I would not recommend buying this bottle.
I tried it neat and wasn't a fan. Long burn of an almost peppery dry spice that reminds me of drinking a highland scotch. Not what I look for in a bourbon. I'll try it over ice and see how well it mellows out, but I'm thinking it will get pushed to the back and only used when company wants a mixed drink.
Enjoyed this quite a bit
I found it a bit Smokey and bright, I enjoyed it but not yet my favorite.
Very good for the price starts off sweet with a spicy finish
Great bourbon for the price! Can easily drink it neat!
The smell. The depth of flavor. The mouth feel. This is exceptional for a bottle under $40
Very good for the price. Spicy and smooth
Loved it!! Rich flavor and color - delish!
I think this JAMES PEPPER Bourbon is great. Good taste and potent.
Loved it! Smooth, wonderful to leisurely sip.
Rich flavor and color, high proof but not as harsh as you would expect. High value at this price point.
Good, but a little too bitter for me.
If you enjoy the spicier high proof bourbons then you will like this more than I did. It was a bit too "hot" for my liking neat. It wasn't bad on an ice sphere but I will be using the remainder for cocktails like an old fashioned where the flavors will shine will mellowing the parts I am less a fan of with it's profile. It's a solid bourbon for $30ish but I prefer other high rye mash bills to this one. For the price point I would take Old Grand Dad 114 if you are familiar with that one. It's roughly the same price, smoother, and more rich in flavor to me.
Rich but smooth, finished with a great taste
This is one of the best purchases I've ever made on this site. The flavor was extraordinary and complex despite being high proof. I've had whiskey 2x the price that didn't taste nearly as good.
Nice but not as much flavor as I expected.
Good drinking bourbon that you can take neat or with a large cube of ice. The spice was not notice at first but you get a little later on the slip. Still ranking my bourbon but this one could find a place on my bar.
I didn't really like it that much. I know it's 100 proof, but it just felt a bit too harsh on the front end for my palate.
Nice amount of spice, surprising smooth finish. Will buy again!
My favorite daily drinker. Nice spice with caramel and burnt sugar. It's getting hard to find, though.
Good bourbon, but a little stronger than I usually prefer. I like the taste, especially with an ice cube.
I thought it was an excellent bourbon. It's great in an old fashioned.
Too sweet (cinnamon flavor)
spicy. clove up front, some oak, finishes sweet. very enjoyable, especially with a couple ice cubes, but spicy enough it's not going to be a regular go to for me
This bourbon is very coarse. I was disappointed.
A little on the sweet side, but still nice.
Meh. I’d rather spend $30 and get a good bourbon. This one is earthy, ie. it tasted like dirt.
Definitely a 100 proof bourbon. Slightly oaky and a chocolate, toffee finish
Great kick for the price. Not to overbearing and great on the rocks.
Price range and taste, I recommend this for the everyday occasion drink. I was expecting a heavy burn but is a great sip. On the rocks in the hot tub.... a little bit of heaven for this quarantine ... be well......
Pretty sweet. Great with old fashioneds.
Smooth, caramel and vanilla complimented by a touch of spice on the back end. Excellent, especially for the price point.
Definitely taste the spiciness of the rye, cherries, and chocolate. Medium finish. Great bottle for the price.
Sweet tasting but the finish is way too harsh. Drinking it on the rocks helped. It will be on the bottom shelf of my bar. For the same price point Buffalo Trace blows this out of the water.
After reading others reviews I was expecting it to be more harsh, surprisingly I found it to be rather smooth on ice with a splash of water, almost took on a minty taste with lots of vanilla and caramel flavor, strong on the nose but overall I enjoyed this and especially the strength for the price, will definitely purchase again
I agree with Julie that this whiskey is a bit harsh. I was a bit disappointed at the flavor. It's not for the faint of heart.
A solid bourbon with tastes if honey, vanilla and caramel with an oak finish. Has a soft mouth feel and goes great neat with a cigar. Definitely a staple for any home bar and under $30 dollars! Deffinetly worth keeping in regular rotation. James E. Pepper is becoming one of my favs.
A bit harsh neat, more palatable on the rocks.
Smooth to start and gently spicy finish.
This is one strong bottle of whiskey. Not for the faint hearted!
A nice balance of sweet and spicy. Good value for the money, definitely worth the price.
Typically not a fan of a rye but was glad I tried this one. Is smooth and sweet with just the right amount of spice. It did not hang around on the pallet as I expected of a bourbon with a higher alcohol content typically does. Was well worth the buy.
Still smooth like a Bourbon should be but with a slightly harsher kick, most likely from the additional ABV... 50% is higher than most Bourbons. It goes incredibly well in Coffee if you're looking to mix
Really smooth rich finish, in the realm of a honey or molasses.
Loved the taste profile, good bite to it but still great to sip on. So glad I added this to my collection
Solid rye whiskey but very alcohol forward. It’s great mixed and solid neat. Worth a buy.
I liked it for a bourbon. Not too sweet.
Great value for an everyday bourbon
Better than expected for the price - pronounced spicy rye and sweet vanilla flavors, with a fairly rich mouth feel. A tasty high rye bourbon!
Not quite up to Wild Turkey Rare Breed which is my favorite, but close. (And $10.00 cheaper)
Strong but nice
Very smooth. Can’t be beat for the price.
Very smooth. But strong alcohol taste on first slip. Went down and Girl approved!
Sweet and spicy. 100 proof with a chocolate finish. After my first pour, I was impressed, it was delicious, and for the price I felt I got a great deal. The second pour was still good, but by the third pour it was too sweet. If you're only planning on having one drink at the end of the day, I would recommend it. If you're planning on having a few, you may want to go with something else. For the price, it's a great addition to any collection.
It has a decent amount of rye spice, vanilla, with and a sweet chocolate finish
I found this a bit harsh on first taste, but it is 100 proof. Put on ice and a dash of club soda, I found it quite delightful.
Smooth with a hint of rye, vanilla and chocolate. A great finish.
Smooth with just enough sweetness for soothing at the end of the day.
A hard hit of rye spice, vanilla, and a sweet chocolate finish. Great for the price.
Very smooth, fantastic drink.......right price too!
One of my favorite daily bourbons. Great neat, very nice in a cocktail. Consistent, full mouthfeel.
I loved this bourbon. Warm, full mouthfeel and a perfectly satisfying sweetness. For the price, this is my new go-to. When I can find it!
Getting harder to find a good $30 Bourbon. Mission accomplished! This is the fourth different James E Pepper I’ve bought and I am yet to be disappointed. Vanilla oak caramel and spice it tastes like a good distillery smells
Sweet but not too sweet. Smooth. Very drinkable. Might make this my go-to bourbon from now on.
This is amazing
Strong but romantic.
Loved this. Smacks you in the face on the front side and then walks way quietly with an amazing finish and a slow warmth on the tongue a full minute after the sip.
Smooth and delicious
It was tasty, a bit stouter than expected, but tasty. If you can’t handle it neat try it I am old fashioned.
Very strong after-taste, that is not enjoyable.
I bought this as a gift to my brother who is a spirits connoisseur and he couldn't stop thanking me for selecting such an excellent spirit for him to imbibe. That let me know that if you want to get the party started right, THIS is how you do it!
Smooth to sip ! Great buy !
There is a bite to it but once you get past that there is also some fine notes hidden there. It's like that old grumpy man next door cussing and cursing at you as go by his porch almost stepping on his lawn but the same night he is watering his roses at the backyard.
Don’t let this bourbon’s high proof scare you. For a young bourbon it has a smooth finish. Not too much depth but very impressive for the price. Can’t wait to try the rye next!
This is a nicely smooth, spicy bourbon. Sweet, heavy caramel on the tongue with a spicy clean finish.
I fell in love with this bourbon after my first tase, it didn’t last long st a bourbon tasting night with my brothers. A must have for any bourbon lover
Smooth and tasty, its 100 proof, but don't be a sissy this is amazing stuff.
I love this so much! I am not a huge fan of most Whiskey but my husband gave me a drink of a sample that we had and I was amazed at how smooth. I get the caramel more than anything and would definitely buy again and again!
Tried the Rye Whiskey by 1776 and couldn't wait to try the Bourbon. I was a bit let down. I think this will work as a mixer bourbon, but not something I'd drink neat. It's not as smooth as I'd like, and there's less caramel note than what I was lead to believe.
TONS of flavor, it's not not very easy going down.
Solid bourbon, not real complex, but smooth and very forward flavor. Will try it in cocktails, but do enjoy it neat.
Very fond of this particular brand
Nice bourbon. Solid on it's own but normally used for cocktails for which it is excellent
solid especially at this price point, would purchase again, nice flavor but a bit of a bite, adding over ice seemed to make it smoother than straight.
I had the rye and loved it, so I purchased their Bourbon Whiskey thinking I'd love it because I love bourbon. It wasn't as smooth as I was anticipating, and the notes weren't as sweet as the spiral indicates. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. Sticking with my Blanton's.
Extremely good spirit. Heavy notes of sweet caramel and spicy rye. Very smooth finish.
Hot, short finish, long burn
Super spicy, which I usually like but it doesn't sit on ur tongue as smoothly as others. I would like it better if it was a bit sweeter. It's 100 proof so it is strong. Take ur time, I added one ice cube, helped a lot.