James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon Review
The week goes on! Tough days require light pours. Tonight I am once again reaching for the tucked away things. Another shameless shelfer if you will.
Company on Label: James Pepper Distilling
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 60% Corn, 36% Rye, 4% Barley
Age: 3 years
Further identification: 2019 purchase - most evident by the very dry cork I nearly lost opening this bottle again
Nose: Without thinking much on it, first nose is a peppery caramel. Thick feeling in the nose, I get some burlap and a few light fruits like an overripe strawberry and plum. Citrus and quite a bit of herbal spice settling in now. This made we wonder if this is an MGP mash bill, which the back of the bottle confirms it is. It's like steak spices: peppercorn, some rosemary and parsley. Mint blasts out of the depths eventually. Pre-sip nose is pretty nice. Post sip nose is rather meaty which may be an artifact of the recently consumed pork chop that passed over my plate. If there is any evidence of oak, I can't find it. The only wood I smell is something that more resembles dry, broken off pine bark. Very light. After a long rest there is a strong butterscotch. This fades after a few strong pulls and it's back to the slightly lacking base of citrus mint and dry pepper.
Palate: Orange peel zest forward, then a sweeping dry vanilla spice. It's over in an instant & I'm left with a very thin after taste that exhibits some if the grain youth, but very little is left. They may have just been on the cusp of 'aged enough' on this one. Caramel is there, but hot & syrupy with a spicy cherry dashing into rye grains. It is pretty fun for a younger 100 proof offering. I think it definitely outclasses a few of the other things in my 3 star category. This was a bit of a pleasant surprise I think a newer drinker would certainly enjoy. Looking back at the pour I actually think this is pretty solid. I enjoyed enough to give it another pour, which I immediately regretted. No aspirations of a 4/5 in my book, this is a solid 3.
I think there is good reason bourbons require an age statement below 4 years; it really feels like that is my quality cutoff for building complex and potent enough flavors to cover up the starting grains.