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1776 Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey by James E. Pepper

James E. Pepper 1776 Barrel Proof Rye

This cask strength straight rye whiskey comes from MGP of Indiana distillery at Lawrenceburg. Old 1776, like Colonel James E. Pepper nicknamed it, is a legendary whiskey brand. It’s been around since the American Revolution. Originated from Lexington, Kentucky, where they just recently built a renovated distillery. So while this rye has been sourced from MGP of Indiana, at some point James E. Pepper rye will come from their own distillery.

Like the 100 proof version, 1776 Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey has been matured for 2-3 years in charred new American oak. The mash bill has over 90% rye like the recipe from Colonel James E. Pepper’s Revolutionary-era suggests.

When looking at its specifications, this whiskey sounds like the dream rye whiskey of my choice. So I was really looking forward tasting it. Check out my conclusions and tasting notes below.

James E. Pepper 1776 Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey

Cask strength compliments this rye

I remember that the normal version of 1776 James E. Pepper rye was bit disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, it was actually great. But expectations were higher because of high rye proportion and 100 proof (50% alcohol by volume). I usually love rye whiskies which have high proportion (over 80%) of rye grain in the mash bill. 1776 rye has 95%.

The cask strength version really gets the best out of this recipe. A big improvement from the 100 proof version. Both are good but this is superior. Great rye kick in the throat, offering rich and powerful palate!

Tasting Notes

Mash bill:
95% rye, 5% malted barley
ABV: 57.6%
Colour: Dark amber
Non-chill filtered
Nose: Acid citrus notes with red fruit and red wine aromas. Orange peel and warming spices. Over time fresh minty rye starts to rise from the back. Adding water tones things down a bit, leaving it peppery and spicy, and adding herbal notes.
Taste: Salty licorice starts the show. Briefly turns into dry warming spices like cardamom. Dark but sweet rye bread. Drops of water add peppermint and acid notes. And tropical (burning) fruits.
Finish: Peppery and fruity. Fresh juicy rye dominates but red fruits and citrus notes are there. Long aftertaste, feel of charred oak is heavy, with hints of nutty notes. Addition of water brings out the combination of rye and toasted oak with even bigger notes.
Balance: The 100 proof version was good but this is much better. Full and rich, strong character that will give you a heavy kick! Powerful fresh rye, not for the faint hearted.

1776 Barrel Proof Rye Scoring

Brand: James E. Pepper (Lexington, Kentucky) Distillery: MGP of Indiana Region: Lawrenceburg, Indiana, USA
Red capped James E. Pepper 1776 is the Barrel Proof version

From far distance, the red cap will help you identify this Barrel Proof version

Cask Strength 1776 Rye Whiskey

Johannes Lindblom
Johannes Lindblom
Finnish whisky enthusiast and the author of WhiskyRant! A digital marketing professional by day – a whisky reviewer and informer by night.

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