James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Rye Barrel Proof
What the Bottler Says
* 114.6 Proof – Not Chill-Filtered – Over 90% Rye in the Mash Bill
* Full Flavored; deep notes of mint, spice, cloves, eucalyptus, chocolate, & honey
* The same exact whiskey as in the standard award winning 100 proof version, only straight from the barrel
What Gary Says
Nose: Hit of alcohol, sharp, bright, crisp, brash; unmistakably young rye with notes of citrus (lemon, orange; a hint of pineapple) and pickle juice.
Palate: Sharp entry, fresh orange zest and pepper spice, subtle sweetness with a hint of caramel.
Finish: Short and drying, with pepper notes lingering.
Comments: I was/am a fan of the James E. Pepper Straight Rye offering, which is this same whiskey but at 100 proof (and $10 or more less a bottle). For the extra dough, this adds 14 proof points – which normally I would celebrate, but I was underwhelmed. As a no-age-statement straight rye, I assume it is at least 2 yrs old, and likely not many days beyond that. I try to align my expectations accordingly, and wasn’t expecting complexity. I did find that with some water, I enjoyed this more – which left me thinking “Why not just by the 100 proof offering?” The water tamps down the rough edges a bit and lets the sweetness shine through on the palate, and the pickle juice become more prominent on the nose. Nothing off-putting about this for me, but nothing motivating me to buy another bottle either. If you’ve never had either of their ryes, I’d recommend trying the 100 proof bottling first – and only if you’re really happy with that, look to give this a spin.
What Richard Says
Nose: Lemon zest, orange peel, grassy, and a bit of vanilla.
Palate: Orange blossom honey, vanilla cream, and a big blast of spearmint.
Finish: The mint lingers a bit but everything else is gone quick leaving a mildly unpleasant bitterness.
Comments: Meh. There is really nothing about this rye that makes it stand out. It’s not bad but it’s pretty plain. Try this at a bar if you are interested but I would grab a bottle of Rittenhouse bottled in bond for ten bucks less.