James E Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon Review

James E Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon is a blend of bourbons all distilled at the James E Pepper Distillery. It has an enjoyable, but unexpected, flavor profile. Read our full review to learn all about it!
James E. Pepper
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Barrel Proof Decanter
Batch No: 0003
Distilled at the Historic James E Pepper Distillery
Lexington, KY
105.4 Proof

Please enjoy our James E Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon Review!

“A distinct blend of unique bourbon whiskies. In honor of the distinguished Colonel James E. Pepper, forefather and innovator of the modern bourbon industry.”

The James E Pepper Distillery

The James E Pepper Distillery of today is located at the same site as the original distillery, in what is now known as Lexington’s Distillery District. The original James E Pepper Distillery closed in the 1960s and then fell into disrepair. The brand was resurrected by Amir Peay in 2008, and in 2017, distilling once again began at the distillery. While their own whiskey was aging, Pepper sourced bourbons and ryes from MGP (now Ross & Squibb) as well as Bardstown Bourbon Company. However, now Pepper’s own whiskeys have come of age, and this barrel proof release is made up entirely of their own distillates.

The Specifics of James E Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon

There are quite specific details given about this barrel proof decanter bourbon on the James E Pepper Distillery website. Therefore, I will simply reprint them here: “Unique blends of our oldest stocks & distinct mash bills, consisting of Corn, Rye, Malted Barley & Malted Rye; Aged in new toasted & charred barrels made from Kentucky Oak, air seasoned a minimum of 18-24 months; Water source from the historic distillery well. Distilled & bottled at the historic James E. Pepper Distillery (DSP-KY-5) in Lexington, Kentucky. Average age of whiskies is 5.5 years; bottled straight from the barrel, uncut & unfiltered.”

The bourbon is bottled in a recreation of an historic decanter produced at the James E. Pepper Distillery in 1945.

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Tasting Notes – James E Pepper Barrel Proof Bourbon Review

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Lightly toasted raisin bread, dried apricot leather candy, brown sugar and light rye spices; subtle notes of marzipan; relatively mild alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Doughy lightly toasted raisin bread, sweet light brown sugar, dry oak; hint of orange peel later on
👉🏻Finish: Growing white and black pepper spice; a bit of dry oak and a touch of apricot leather candy; mild dryness develops later on; fairly long finish with some lingering sweetness as well; relatively mild burn

This James E Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon has changed a bit since I first tried it. The dominant flavors have now settled into those of a lightly toasted, doughy, raisin bread. There’s nice lightly toasted bread, soft raisins, light cinnamon and brown sugar in the nose. The taste is fairly sweet, with similar flavors and a hearty dose of sweet light brown sugar. There is a doughiness to the nose and taste, as well. The finish changes it up a bit, with some white and black pepper spice, a bit of dry oak and some dried apricot leather candy later on. The crazy thing is that the distillery tasting notes mention marzipan, and for the first time ever, I think I can actually imagine that flavor in this bourbon.

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Not What I Expected

James E Pepper Barrel Proof Bourbon is really not at all what I expected. However, the lightly toasted raisin bread is not a bad thing. It is actually quite enjoyable, just not the flavors that I expect from a barrel proof column distilled bourbon. Likewise, the alcohol in the nose and the burn in the finish are also much less than I usually anticipate from a barrel strength bourbon. However, that is not really surprising. This is not the usual barrel proof bourbon, since it is bottled at 52.7% ABV (105.4 proof), fairly low for the category. Also, if I didn’t know that the Pepper distillery had a large column still, I would swear that this bourbon was distilled with a pot still. I can’t think of another column distilled bourbon that I have had with similar doughy, bready flavors.

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Conclusion – James E Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon Review

I am quite enjoying James E. Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon. The flavors that it packs are much more reminiscent of a pot still than a column still bourbon, which is a bit confusing to me. And, it might be to you as well. So, if you are looking for those classic column distilled bourbon flavors, you might be a bit surprised. However, if you enjoy lightly toasted doughy raisin bread with a hint of marzipan, your expectations will be very pleasantly met! Have you tried this bourbon? What did you think?

We hope you have enjoyed our James E Pepper Decanter Barrel Proof Bourbon Review! Would you like to read about a couple of other barrel strength whiskeys? Then read our Larceny Barrel Proof Bourbon Review C922 and our Rossville Union Barrel Proof Rye Review!

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