James E. Pepper Distilling, Bristol Group break ground on new bourbon warehouse

By Brenna Angel, Building Kentucky

Gov. Andy Beshear and James E. Pepper owner Amir Peay (center) enjoy a celebratory whiskey toast at the future site of a new bourbon warehouse in Woodford County. Also pictured L-R are James Croley, Bristol Group; Eric Gregory, Kentucky Distillers’ Association; Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift; Aaron Schorsch, master distiller for James E. Pepper, and Woodford County Judge/Executive James Kay. (Courtesy the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development)

Construction is underway for one of the oldest brand names in Kentucky bourbon distilling, the James E. Pepper Distilling Company. Joined by Gov. Andy Beshear, local officials, and representatives from the project team, James E. Pepper recently broke ground in Woodford County on a new warehouse to keep pace with the high demand for its whiskeys and bourbons.

“This project will help move the company forward and contributes to our thriving bourbon and spirits industry, which has seen significant growth in recent years. Congratulations to James E. Pepper and their project team as they start construction on a new warehouse to meet rising demand for its award-winning spirits.”

Gov. Andy Beshear

About the new bourbon warehouse

Rendering of new bourbon warehouse (Courtesy James E. Pepper Distilling)

The new warehouse will be the company’s first, representing a $3 million investment by James E. Pepper. Whiskies distilled at the Lexington facility are currently aging in third-party warehouses and are expected to reach the market beginning in 2022. The company’s branded products include 1776 straight bourbon, 1776 straight rye, Old Pepper single barrel and small batch Henry Clay straight rye whiskies.

“We can’t bottle our whiskey fast enough. By building our own warehouse, James E. Pepper can double production capacity at the historic distillery. We’re proud of the success we’ve experienced in revitalizing this iconic American brand, and we will have some exciting releases coming out in the near future.”

James E. Pepper Distilling Owner Amir Peay

Construction schedule

With Bristol Group, Inc. as the project’s general contractor, construction on the steel rickhouse is expected to be complete by next spring. The property in Midway Station will also allow for a second warehouse to be built in the future.

“Bristol Group is proud to bring our 25 years of industrial construction experience to James E. Pepper, a company with its own storied history. We look forward to delivering this bourbon barrel warehouse on time and on budget for James E. Pepper.”

Bristol Group Vice President – Business Development and Design James Croley

Even throughout the global pandemic, James E. Pepper has experienced significant growth, with 2020 sales up 45% and year-to-date sales trending on a similar course.

About James E. Pepper Distilling Company

The Pepper family brand of whiskey is an iconic Kentucky whiskey brand initially produced during the American Revolution and continued through 1967. The family built and operated two main distilleries: first founding the site that today hosts the Woodford Reserve Distillery, and later the James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington.

Whiskey entrepreneur Amir Peay relaunched the brand in 2008. Peay embarked on a decade-long campaign of research and collecting historical materials to retell the lost story of this American whiskey brand and to distill new stocks of “Pepper” whiskey.

In December 2017, the distillery once again began distilling whiskey using the same historic recipe as when it shut down a half-century earlier. Located on Manchester Street in Lexington’s Distillery District, James E. Pepper has the federal distillery license number of DSP-KY-5.

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