Hot Shots, Volume I : Redemption Rye Whiskey

Usually when I write these reviews I buy a bottle, stretch it out for quite a while, coming back to it every once in a while until I realize it’s almost gone and, goddammit,  I need to write that review before I polish the bottle off.  Not tonight. Tonight I have one shot to get it right. or wrote…writ? Anyways, let’s let this 30 cl little sample speak for itself:

Nose: Little but a tad astringent, with a little honey sweetness, some very mild rye spice, and some not unpleasant woody must, which very well could be from the glass I put it in.

Taste: That honey is there initially, but is quickly overtaken by a hot dose of cinnamon that dances and sparks on the tongue, and heats the the throat as it winds it’s way down the hatch.  A little more burn than you’d expect at 92 proof, which is just bully by me.

Afterburn (finish):  That cinnamon sits just right and damn does than burn hang on, my throat is still toasty, and I’m finding that slight musty woodiness was, perhaps, in the bottle after all.

Thanks to Ben Winston for the Drinks by the Dram set!

Overall this was a lovely little taste, and has left me hankering perhaps for a touch more.  Alas, that little shot was all I had, but the little bugger had some spicy fury to it!  So, what’s the point of this single shot tasting method?  It’s to drink the little single shots and decide if I want more dammit, and I do.  Also, this good be a good training trick for my palate so I’ll stop being so damned lazy and get it right the first taste from now on.  (Not likely)

Review: James E. Pepper 1776 Rye

Over the long weekend I paid a visit over to Cooperstown, NY to see my girl and dig the town.  I know what you’re thinking—and I don’t really blame you for it—baseball.  Well in spite of my All-American appetite for liquor, I’m not much of a fan of America’s pastime  I’ll play it, but that’s as far as my interest goes, so I avoided the museum and all that bat and ball capitalism and made my first stop a liquor store.  Actually, two of them.  It was 10 am and the girl was in a meeting, what’s a boy to do?  Anyways, this is where I met the star of this show—James E. Pepper and his 100 proof and thoroughly patriotic 1776 Rye Whiskey.  I may not like baseball much but damn do I love rye.  I’ll admit this bottle reached out to the historian in me with its “aged” label and an evocation of the American Revolution I was only too willing to buy into in a town that once served as a camp for the Clinton-Sullivan Campaign during the war.  So I dropped the hammer at around $27 bucks, and now I imagine you’re wondering—do I regret it?

No, of course not, because money may not always buy happiness but it can always buy tastiness, and friends, James E. Pepper is that.  Apparently the Pepper family started making rye in 1776 and continued doing so until around prohibition, and supposedly this whiskey is the result of the extensive study of studies of the original Pepper Rye.  The odds of me getting my hands on pre-prohibition Pepper are pretty low, so I can only tell you what I taste here.  First off this whiskey is pretty hot, which is no surprise at 100 proof, and fortunately I find it’s that sweet spot of bold heat that doesn’t over-power the underlying flavors.  This is particularly good because there are some great flavors in here.  Of course there’s the obligatory rye spice and, dare I say, pepper—but there’s also some sweet honey that plays in both taste and consistency on my palate.  There’s something else here, something I find a bit unusual…is that peppermint?  Damn, another pepper pun: but there really is some soft and almost refreshing peppermint that lingers oh so sweetly near the end of a good quaff.  This is quite pleasant, easy sippin’ rye, perfect for a crisp autumn day on Lake Otsego reading with a lovely lady at your side.  So, while the history nerd in me may have bought this because of a likely exaggerated history based marketing scheme, the drinker in me has quite enjoyed this reigniting of the Pepper family brand and wishes them many more years of history making hooch.

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Also note: I am drinking this out of an unusual choice of glassware—perhaps that portends a coming article on a visit to Ommegang brewery?