James E. Pepper
|Industry||Manufacturing and distillation of liquors|
|Elijah Pepper, Oscar Pepper, James E. Pepper|
|Products||American bourbon and rye whisky|
Colonel James E. Pepper (1850–1906), Master Distiller, was a bourbon industrialist and flamboyant promoter of his family brand. He was the third generation to produce 'Old Pepper' whisky, "The Oldest and Best Brand of Whisky made in Kentucky", founded in 1780 during the American Revolution. His namesake distillery in Lexington, Kentucky was at one point the largest whisky distillery in the United States.
An avid and noted horseman, Col. Pepper operated one of the most regarded stables in Kentucky and paid at the time the highest amount ever per acre for a bluegrass horse farm. His thoroughbreds competed in the Kentucky Derby and in races across America and throughout Europe. He traveled in an ornate private rail car named "The Old Pepper", painted with images of his famed whiskey label, and he spent a considerable amount of time in Manhattan, where he would travel to promote his brand.
During his visits to New York, often at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Colonel Pepper was known to socialize with other American captains of industry, including John D. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, C.V. Vanderbilt, Charles A. Pillsbury, Fred Pabst, Charles L. Tiffany, & William Steinway. It was at the Waldorf that Colonel Pepper is credited with introducing the world to the "Old Fashioned" cocktail, which was said to have been invented in his honor by a bartender at the famed Pendennis Club in Louisville.
The Col. Pepper was a staunch advocate for the whiskey business. He was a vocal opponent of the infamous "Whisky Trust" of the 1890s. In 1890 he got the state of Kentucky to change its laws so that he could bottle his own whisky at his distillery. Before the changes in the law, distillers could only sell their whiskey by the barrel, and if their product was bottled it was because whoever purchased the barrel from the distillery did the bottling. He introduced the idea of a strip stamp with his signature on it to go across the cork, sealing the bottle. He then advertised that if this signature was damaged, the consumer should be wary of purchasing the bottle because someone may have tampered with the whiskey, and it may not contain real Pepper whiskey. The strip stamp became popular and the government used the idea when they passed the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897.
Colonel Pepper proudly proclaimed his continued use of his grandfather's original Revolutionary‐era recipes, and as such nicknamed his whisky 'Old 1776'.
Old Fashioned cocktail
The recipe for the Old Fashioned cocktail was said to have been invented by a bartender at that club in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, one of the founders of James E. Pepper company and a prominent bourbon distiller, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.
- "Pepper, James E. | Lexington History Museum". lexhistory.org. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- "Col. Pepper bought Meadowthorpe". The New York Times. 1892-04-26. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- "Dating Old Whiskey Bottles from the 19th Century - The Bourbon Review". The Bourbon Review. 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
- The New York Times
- Crockett, Albert Stevens (1935). The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book.