I believe I’ve made it clear here on the blog that I love rye whiskey. The brash cousin to other American whiskies, rye is famous for it’s spicier bite, and many agree that the classic whiskey cocktails are best with rye.
Today we talk about James E. Pepper 1776 Rye from Georgetown Trading Co. If you recall, I’ve also tried Georgetown Trading’s Pow Wow Botanical Rye here at the blog, a unique whiskey-meets-gin flavor profile.
James E. Pepper is spicy even for a rye – it’s very spicy – with cloves leading the flavor and a faint whisper of honey in the finish. 90% of the mash bill is rye, and this is a 100 proof whiskey – it’s like a punch in the throat when sipped neat.
I liked this rye with lots of ice to tame the fiery flavor, and when I started testing this with cocktails (namely, a Manhattan and Old Fashioned), I discovered Pepper to be a pretty great cocktail ingredient – it made for one of the best Old Fashioneds I’ve ever had.
I’ll be straight with you – a whiskey that breaks above 45% alcohol is tough for me to savor without some ice or club soda to tame it down. James E. Pepper needs that, certainly, but as you mix it with other cocktail ingredients, it balances itself out well. For about $30, if you love the burn of a rye spice, you should certainly put Pepper on your short list.