About & History

Rickhouse Pub

Our History

Established in 1780, at the dawn of the American Revolution and distilled over 3 family generations, the Pepper family brand of whiskey is one of the oldest and most legendary whiskey brands in both Kentucky and American history.

“Old Pepper” bourbon became the favorite brand of several noted Americans including: President Ulysses S. Grant, Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, President Andrew Jackson, Vice President John C. Calhoun, President William Henry Harrison and Statesman Daniel Webster.

In 1867, James E. Pepper was a celebrated bourbon industrialist and took the family brand to its highest peak. A Kentucky captain of American industry, he raced thoroughbreds in the Kentucky Derby, traveled in a private rail car and helped introduce the world to the Old-Fashioned cocktail. He nicknamed his whiskey “Old 1776” and proudly proclaimed his continued use of his grandfather’s original Revolutionary-era recipes.

Years later, the James E. Pepper Distillery was built in Lexington, Kentucky. At the time, it was the largest bourbon distillery in the United States and its remnants today are listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

Many hail James E. Pepper as “one of the best-known distillers of fine whiskies in the world, whose brands have probably been more universally advertised than any other of the Kentucky distilleries.”

Today, Georgetown Trading Co. owns the 1776 brand and the James E. Pepper Distillery here in Lexington, Kentucky.

James E. Pepper
Original Distillery
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What is a rickhouse?

In the U.S., a warehouse used for storing barrels of aging whiskey. Barrels are stored on ricks, stacked several high. The materials that the building is constructed from, as well as the location of the barrel in the building, can affect the maturation process (courtesy from Whisky Advocate)