Kentucky Distillers’ Association Welcomes James E. Pepper Distillery as Newest Craft Member

September 25, 2018

For Immediate Release – September 25, 2018


FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association today announced that the historic James E. Pepper Distillery in Lexington is the newest and 39th member of the non-profit trade group that 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.

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“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®.

Founded in 1880, the KDA is the state’s voice for Bourbon and spirits issues with 39 diverse members from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of America’s only native spirit.

Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon, crafting 95 percent of the world’s supply. Only the Bluegrass State has the perfect natural mix of climate, condition and pure limestone water necessary for producing the world’s greatest Bourbon.

Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $8.5 billion economic engine that generates as many as 17,500 jobs with an annual payroll topping $800 million and pours $825 million into tax coffers each year.

Attendance at the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® distilleries has skyrocketed by 314 percent in the last 10 years. Visitors made more than 1.2 million stops at participating distilleries last year, the second straight year topping that milestone.

In addition, the industry is in the middle of a $1.2 billion building boom, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky Bourbon.

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Gregory said Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry is a major a tourism driver as well as an economic engine for the state. “In another year of record growth for our iconic industry, we have seen more jobs, investment and revenue for the Commonwealth,” he said.

“We are delighted to welcome the James E. Pepper Distillery to our KDA family, and we greatly appreciate Amir’s historic contribution to the growing Bourbon scene in Lexington and his support and leadership in our beloved industry.”

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For more information, contact: Eric Gregory, KDA President, (502) 875-9351

Founded in 1880, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association is the historic voice for Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Its diverse and growing membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are fostering the next generation of the Commonwealth’s timeless craft and treasured economic engine. Member benefits include media relations, international trade development, private sampling events, technical assistance, economic development support, networking, legal defense, marketing strategies, governmental and regulatory advocacy and innovative tourism experiences through the KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures. The KDA maintains an open membership policy, champions a strong commitment to the responsible and moderate consumption of spirits, and fights to curb underage drinking and drunk driving. Learn more at and KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®, KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL CRAFT TOUR®, KENTUCKY BOURBON AFFAIR™, KBT™, and BOURBON TRAIL™ are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Please savor our Bourbon and distilled spirits like a true Kentuckian – Responsibly.

Enjoy Like a True Kentuckian: Responsibly