Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Review: James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon (15 Year)

Thank you for your patience with me and my “time” excuses. I hope things are well with all of you and that you’ve been sipping some excellent whiskey. While I’ve not been posting about it, I sure have! Again, thanks for your patience as I work through many reviews.

Today let’s take a look at James E. Pepper 1776 Bourbon, a 15 year old whiskey bottled by James E. Pepper & Co, but distilled by the folks at MGP in Lawrenceburg Indiana. It’s interesting that the folks at James E. Pepper were able to secure such old stock, but age isn’t anything but a number. How does this juice taste…..

James E. Pepper 15James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Bourbon (15 Years), Barrel 46% abv (92 proof), $100/bottle
Color: Deep Amber/Copper
Nose: Quite light and restrained for a 15 year old – very elegant. Sweet caramel, golden apple, and vanilla cover much of any barrel notes. Hints of clove and soft mint (rye) perk up with more time.
Palate: Again, light and elegant. Brittle caramel and barrel spices prickle on the tongue. Vanilla and a baked apple fruitiness as well. Finishes a tad flat. With a splash of water the spice notes are more pronounced, the soft sweetness lessens.
Overall: This is a very good whiskey, if not a touch flat. Tasted blind I’d never guess this was 15 years old. It has aged gracefully, perhaps somewhere shielded from the extremes. Overall it’s balanced and composed from sniff to sip, but it carries a big price tag.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.5 (Very Good)


  1. Welcome back, Jason. Good to see a review from you!

  2. Patrick Corbett

    April 27, 2014 at 9:48 PM

    Thank God, you’re back! Another fine review; I have a bottle, but haven’t cracked it open yet.

    Your reviews are part of my bourbon appreciation routine, so thanks for your efforts.


  3. Great to see you back. Seriously, this has some of the best stuff out there on the subject. That’s why it’s frustrating to have to read other, less good work. Thanks – it’s a pleasure every time something new comes up, I just hope that the next one isn’t in September!

  4. I hear the train a comin’ It’s rollin’ ’round the bend, And I ain’t seen the sunshine, Since, I don’t know when……Good to have you back!!

  5. He’s alive!

  6. Thanks for another great review. I can always rely on your reviews for great insight into what my whiskey experience will be.


  7. Thanks for another great review. I can always rely on your reviews for great insight into what my whiskey experience will be.


  8. Whew! I was just about ready to start searching the obituaries! Welcome back, Jason. The universe has been set right again.

  9. $100 a bottle for an average 15 year old bourbon speaks to the current imbalance in the marketplace. When Eagle Rare 10 year and Elijah Craig 12 year are still available in the mid $20s, we’re looking at a certain degree of price gouging with this bottling.

    I’m happy with the mainstream status quo versus the Pepper. A reality check may be in order here. I’m also perfectly satisfied with the $26 Henry McKenna BIB last reviewed here. Still lots of great, inexpensive American whiskey available instead of stuff like this.

    Jason, many of us understand your need to focus on family first and put whiskey blogging into the background. I’m grateful for whatever time you can give us, and your family is much better off for the time you devote to them.

    Family first, whiskey second…or third…or twelfth.

  10. Actually, whiskey starts to move quickly up the priority list as the kids get older, especially if they’re boys with driver’s licenses or attractive girls.

  11. Amen Josh. Why quibble over a few bucks for what few indulgences us dads have.

  12. Being MGPI, it’s probably 95/5 mash, right? (95% rye, 5% barley).

    I’ve passed on this bottle a number of times and glad I have. After recently sampling an older Mich 10 rye (7G) vs the current 14C, it’s hard to get excited about any NDP rye over $100. I’ll hold out for TH Handy or just buy Willett 4 yr for $40.

    Thx for the write-up.

  13. Or, nevermind I’m an idiot. I read MGP and my mind went to rye instantly. Ignore previous comment. Sorry.

  14. You’re back!

  15. Personally, I’m concerned about supply of the good stuff, especially the buffalo trace brands. Forget Pappy, I just want some Elmer T Lee or Blantons for the KY Derby. I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Prices are going up, and no supply. Whats a KY boy living in TN to do? Buy flavored whiskey….I think not.

  16. I’ve only seen the rye. I’ll have to keep looking for their bourbon. Thx for the review.

  17. Would love to hear Jason’s take on Barterhouse and Old Blowhard.

  18. Whiskeyseller

    May 9, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    I agree with Sam K. I’d be happy to grab 4 bottles of Elijah 12 or Eagle Rare before dropping a c-note on this one. These “limited release” and “allocated” bourbons will continue to draw top dollar as consumers crave what they think they can’t get.

  19. We get the “Straight Bourbon Whiskey” edition down here in FL. Have not seen the others. No age statement. 100 proof. $39. For both of these bourbons their web site says, “Not Chill-Filtered – Over 38% Rye in the Mash Bill” FWIW.

  20. What sam K said x2. Jason, watching your Mint Julep video has become an annual derby tradition for me. It gets me pumped up for making them.

  21. Welcome back! A friend recently brought over a bottle of the 100 proof straight bourbon variety James E. Pepper, and I thought it was decent. Not good enough to make me conformable dropping $100 on a higher end version. Anyway, super glad to see this pop up in my RSS feed and looking forward to more reviews!

  22. There are so many great bourbons and ryes out there that cost far less than $100, I’d be hard-pressed to shell it out for something that you only rated an 8.5.

  23. Yep. It’s confirmed. This bourbon is a flat turd.

  24. …and you can’t polish a turd.

  25. Jason,
    As is said often in radio, “Long time, first time.” Love the reviews & all you bring to the table.
    Consistent with the “Parade of Values” you’ve referenced, how about a review of Heaven Hill 6-year BIB White Label?
    Would appreciate your take up against the previous review of EWBIB.

  26. Thank you so much for those tasting notes! Did you ever considered doing a review for the “Glenfiddich 21 Years old”? I would be curios what your personal opinion on that one would be. Thanks again!

  27. Hi Jason,

    Any way you could do a review of Bud Light beer? I’m thinking I don’t like it, but I would love for you to confirm this. Thanks!

  28. Hi Jason,

    While you’re at it, could you also review tap water from different places? I’ve had quite a bit of pipe variations lately. Thanks!

  29. Even though Jason’s blog is somewhat dormant, it’s still drawing trolls like Nick. Jason, I look forward to your return. Nick, get a life.

  30. Well, it’s been over two months again with out a new review!

    I think Jason should give up this bourbon blog / review website!

  31. You guys need to get a life! This is not a news feed and is not a business. This is nothing more than just a personal log of Jason’s tastings and opinions about his hobby that he has decided to share publicly. If you want to see some real “news” feeds or forums (which this is not) then click on one of the links that Jason has provided under “Blogroll.”

  32. Alas, nothing lasts forever. *sigh*

  33. Joe, I’m not sure of what it is that you are saying. If you are saying that Jason’s blog should be discounted in some way, then I will respond by saying that there are many bourbon enthusiasts that appreciate his opinions and guidance.

  34. I agree that many people value(d) his opinions, but when he only offers them up once every three or four months, on a single whisky, one is entitled to question their value. It’s his blog so he can do what he wants, when he wants, if at all, but he’s basically a has-been at this point. Too bad.

  35. Just an FYI. Jason has a LIFE. Which means he has family and job concerns like all the rest of us. The important things in life come first. This blog is not his full time job. In no way shape or form do you have to come here. With that said, there are many new bourbon drinkers out there who would still find this site’s archival qualities a sheer treasure trove of information. The reviews on this site represent many years of dedication and work, and just because the reviews do not come as quick, there is no reason to downplay the knowledge and information available here. I spent many years in the beverage world and I still come here for tasting notes. This blog is simply the best of it’s kind, which I’m sure is the source of much of the angst in wanting new content. Let’s not forget that there are more important things than bourbon. So in the meantime, enjoy your bourbon and enjoy what’s here, and never mind what isn’t.

  36. Nick – Nobody is accusing anybody of not having a life. And what’s in the archives is great but at this point that’s all there is and I imagine that most people have already read through those exhaustively because that’s all there is now. When a blog is running at a 3 per YEAR average one is entitled to question its relevance and will seriously raise an eyebrow when told that it’s “simply the best of its kind”. How’s that? It’s basically in a coma. You can can get more solid, not to mention timely Bourbon recommendations in 5 minutes at a good store than you’ll get here in a year at this point. Just kill it already. Oh, wait – that appears to have already happened. It’s a shame but there you have it.

  37. I know Jason Pyle and respect and value his perspective immensely. Any of you can question his dedication, loyalty, or whatever. I’ll keep watching this site weekly, waiting for his next post. It will show up, sooner or later, and will be worth both the wait and the read.

    He’s got a young family. I’ve seen whiskey bloggers family lives disintegrate, literally, because they can’t give up the booze or the blog in deference to their home life. What I see here is that WE are not as important as his family, and that’s just fine with me.

    In no way does that diminish Jason’s past or future work, here or elsewhere. We are not as important as his wife and kids, nor should we be. Go elsewhere if you’re unsatisfied with his current production, but don’t question his relevance. There are plenty of less-qualified bloggers out there who’d love to field your comments.

  38. At about 3 posts a year, he’s irrelevant, by any normal definition of relevance. That’s no comment on past work and as for future work, well, the current output shouldn’t make anybody overly confident, should it? Too bad but there you have it. Nobody who has been reading this site wants to see it die but face reality – it be dead.

  39. So go away already and quit bitching. We’re tired of your bad attitude. You’re obviously coming back hoping for the next post just like the rest of us, troll.

  40. Sam, all, I am alive and well. Appreciate all checking in on things. I know the blog posts have been few and far between. This site is absolutely not dead, it just has been on a bit of a hiatus for far too long. I do appreciate everyone’s patience. Fortunately there are some excellent blogs and websites that provide outstanding information for whiskey lovers. But rest assured I plan on getting my act together real soon. Life with a growing business, an awesome family of 3 very sports-loving girls (I’ve entered the world of club sports folks – whew!!!!) has been hard to manage for a poor multi-tasker like me. I ran into a little health snafu in May that uncovered an congenital heart defect that I’m close to getting squared away as well. Finding out about it was a real blessing. At the end of the day though – it’s all about choices right?

    Again, I appreciate the patience and most of all the support and checking in. The Manifesto will most certainly get in to some semblance of consistency sooner than later.

    I really hope all of you and yours are healthy and well.



  41. You’re a class act Jason. May your health and family be well.

  42. I’ve never understood logging into a blog to complain about it. You dont pay for it. If you arnet a fan of the blog, or upset that there arent enough blogs…….I know this is a novel approach but, maybe try another blog??
    I am new to commenting on here, but have read the reviews on here for a couple years now. I agree with the review of this J Pepper. It is good, but not worth the price point here in Boston of 87 dollars. I have a guy (dont you love it when people say that) who holds bottles aside for me that he knows are worthy. He held this one for me, while telling me, “people love or hate this one”. Its ok, like many others here have said, There are plenty of 20-30 dollar bottles I enjoy more. I have been snapping up old fitzy 12’s at 30 dollars a pop from this store, until I tried grabbing 4 and the owner got angry with me :(…I hear it will be hard to get soon, if not already.

  43. I have a 6 year old bottle of this, has anyone ever had that?

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