James E. Pepper Distillery becomes newest craft member of KDA

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Historic James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington is the newest and 39th member of the non-profit trade group Kentucky Distillers’ Association, which unites and leads Kentucky’s signature bourbon and distilled spirits industry.

Located in the heart of Lexington’s vibrant Distillery District, the restored Pepper distillery began production in December 2017 after more than 50 years of neglect. It had been abandoned in 1958, despite being one of the oldest and most iconic brands of whiskey, with DSP number KY-5.

“This has been a decade-long passion project to relaunch this iconic brand, re-build this historic distillery and re-establish the Pepper family brand to its rightful place in the annals of Kentucky whiskey,” said Amir Peay, proprietor of the Pepper Distillery who resurrected the brand in 2008. 

“Crafting award-winning whiskey and completing the distillery project achieved the first two goals — and now joining the prestigious Kentucky Distillers’ Association is a milestone that helps us to secure the third,” Peay said. “We are thrilled and honored to join the ranks of such distinguished company.”

Located at 1228 Manchester Street, the Pepper distillery is part of the revitalized Distillery District featuring restaurants, bars, breweries, gourmet ice cream and fellow KDA member, the Barrel House Distillery. The distillery is open for tours Wednesday through Sunday.

Pepper’s portfolio boasts a variety of bourbon, whiskey, and rye expressions under the James E. Pepper “1776” and Old Pepper brands, as well as Old Henry Clay Straight Rye Whiskey and the 1776 Smoked American Brown Ale aged in rye whiskey barrels. 

Learn more at www.jamesepepper.com.

“A restoration project on this scale takes a remarkable investment of time, energy and money,” KDA President Eric Gregory said. “Amir and his team have demonstrated a level of dedication to this project that truly underscores the integrity of tradition in our signature industry.”

The distillery is the KDA’s 26th Craft-level member, aging less than 10,000 barrels a year. The company is KDA’s fourth member distillery in Fayette County, joining Town Branch, Barrel House and Bluegrass Distillery.

James E. Pepper also is now eligible to join the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.

Visit www.kybourbon.com and www.kybourbontrail.com to learn more.

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