The James E. Pepper ‘1776’® whiskey brand announced in May 2016 that it was reviving its namesake distillery, The James E. Pepper Distillery or Jas. E. Pepper Distillery at its original location in Lexington, Kentucky. The distillery originally started in 1879 but mothballed in 1958 is now under renovation with an expected opening date of October 2017.
Distillery No. 5 in Kentucky
The distillery has requested and revived its federal distillery permit for the historic DSP-KY-5, the 5th Distilled Spirits Plant license ever issued in the state of Kentucky. The way that DSP numbers are assigned has changed over the years, to put it into perspective, newly assigned DSP numbers are in the 20,000s.
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The project is on schedule to begin production by October and will utilize the historic limestone well at the distillery 200 feet below ground. Corn, Rye and Barley have been grown in partnership with local farmers and will be harvested in time for the Fall production.
The project will feature a custom copper column still from Vendome Copper & Brass Works in Louisville. Its design will be inspired by the historic mechanical drawings from the old distillery, and the historic Pepper still made by Vendome in 1934—the year Prohibition was repealed in Kentucky. The distillery will have an initial annual production of over 42,000 proof gallons, with the ability to produce up to 260,000 proof gallons in the future. Once completed the distillery will feature a museum showcasing the life of the original founder, Colonel James E. Pepper.
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Originally built in 1869, the historic distillery ceased production in 1958 and was abandoned for over 50 years. Since then the blighted property and surrounding area have undergone a revitalization as part of a community redevelopment and collaboration among independent local entrepreneurs.
The Distillery District
The now thriving Pepper Distillery District is a 25-acre entertainment district in downtown Lexington, KY, all on the grounds of the historic James E. Pepper Distillery, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A vibrant and thriving destination, visitors will be able to enjoy the James E. Pepper Distillery as well as Barrel House Distillery and The Elkhorn Tavern right next door. There is also a brewery, restaurants, bars, gourmet ice cream, and coffee with space for retail locations on the grounds.