James E. Pepper 15 Year Barrel Proof Rye, 45.65%
Nose: Rich and chocolatey, orange and lemon zest, rye spice, sweet oak, hint of anise, musty
Palate: Wonderfully thick and weighty (especially for the proof), tons of milk chocolate, honey and caramel sweetness, mango, floral, clove, cinnamon and pepper spices, light oak tannins
Finish: Long warming finish as the spice crescendos, anise, oak with some bitterness, slightly drying but not what you’d expect at 15 years
Rating: 94/100 – Incredible | An all time favorite
Such an oddball of a well aged rye, but in the most amazing way. The unique aging situation, which gave it the low barrel proof, allowed the rye to develop in a way where it picked up those rich and chocolatey notes of maturity while avoiding extra tannins and bitterness often found in older American whiskeys. The result is a rye that demonstrates age without paving over its brighter citrus and floral notes with dominating oak.
This is far and away the best MGP rye I’ve had, and a close second to my dear Hochstadter’s 16 for best rye period. JEP 15 is one of the few whiskeys that I would actually consider purchasing at secondary prices.
Additional Info: Distilled at MGP in 1997 (Seagram’s at that time), allegedly aged in “cellar casks” near Tanner’s Creek resulting in a very low proof