55 Proof (ABV 110%)
In 2017 we completed the multi-year project to rebuild the historic Pepper Distillery, which had been abandoned in 1967 for over 50 years. This label is a celebration of that project and where we showcase our single barrel picks, small-batch bottlings, or limited specialty finishes.
Age statements and bottling proofs are on the labels. Bottled by hand at the Historic James E. Pepper Distillery, using water from the historic limestone well to cut whiskeys to proof. Distilled at various distilleries, including ours (DSP-KY-5), the Lawrenceburg Distillery in Indiana (DSP-IN-15023), and the Bardstown Bourbon Co. in Kentucky (DSP-KY-20037); relevant details can be found on the labels.
The Pepper family brand of whiskey is an iconic Kentucky whiskey brand initially produced during the American Revolution and continued through 1967. The family built and operated two main distilleries: first founding the site that today hosts the Woodford Reserve Distillery, and later the James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington. In the late 1960s the bourbon industry hit hard times, and both the brand and distillery in Lexington were abandoned for over half a century.
In 2008 the brand was relaunched by whiskey entrepreneur Amir Peay. A decade-long campaign of thorough historical research and collection of historic materials was used to retell the lost story of this iconic American whiskey brand and to distill new stocks of "Pepper" whiskey (visit the History Page to learn more). To initiate the relaunch of the brand, partnerships with the Lawrenceburg Distillery in Indiana and the Bardstown Bourbon Co. in Kentucky were formed. Today some of our whiskies contain whiskies distilled at those distilleries.
After a multi-year construction effort, the historic James E. Pepper Distillery—which after fifty years of neglect had fallen into a terrible state of disrepair—was completely rebuilt and restored. In December 2017, the distillery once again began distilling whiskey using the same historic recipe as when it shut down in 1967
On December 21st, 2017, we were thrilled to announce that distilling recommenced on site at the Historic James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington, Kentucky. This monumental occasion was the culmination of a multi-year project to renovate & rebuild the iconic property, a National Historic Landmark, which had been abandoned for over 50 years.
COL. JAMES E. PEPPER
A Horseman Of International Fame
Colonel James E. Pepper (1850-1906), Master Distiller, was a larger-than-life Bourbon Industrialist and flamboyant promoter of his family brand. He was the third generation to produce 'Old Pepper' whiskey, "The Oldest and Best Brand of Whisky made in Kentucky," founded in 1780 during the American Revolution. His namesake distillery in Lexington, Kentucky was at one point the largest whiskey distillery in the United States.
An avid and noted horseman, Col. Pepper operated the finest stable in Kentucky. His thoroughbreds competed in the Kentucky Derby and in races across America and throughout Europe. He traveled in an ornate private rail car named "The Old Pepper," painted with images of his famed whiskey label, and he spent a considerable amount of time in Manhattan, where he would travel to promote his brand.
During his visits to New York, often at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Colonel Pepper was known to socialize with other American captains of industry, including John D. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, C.V. Vanderbilt, Charles A. Pillsbury, Fred Pabst, Charles L. Tiffany, & William Steinway. It was at the Waldorf that Colonel Pepper is credited with introducing the world to the “Old Fashioned” cocktail, which was said to have been invented in his honor by a bartender at the famed Pendennis Club in Louisville.
The Colonel was a staunch advocate for the whiskey business. He was a vocal opponent of the infamous "Whisky Trust" of the 1890's, lobbied the state of Kentucky to change its laws so that he could bottle his own whiskey at his distillery, and was instrumental in the implementation of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897.
Colonel Pepper proudly proclaimed his continued use of his grandfather’s original Revolutionary‐era recipes, and as such nicknamed his whiskey 'Old 1776'.