I.W.Harper Straight Bourbon

I.W. Harper I.W.Harper Straight Bourbon

(0.75l, 41%)

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An historic Bourbon returns to the US… and it’s about time.

Issac Wolfe (I.W.) Bernheim famously came the United States in 1867 with $4 cash and the clothes on his back. He got a job as a bookkeeper for a liquor company and saved his pennies, eventually opening his own distribution business in 1872. Soon, he was distilling and bottling his own brand of premium Bourbon under the I.W. Harper name to avoid confusion with his Bernheim Distribution business. For decades, all I.W. Harper Bourbon was exported. But a few years ago Diageo purchased the company, brought distilling to their Heaven Hill facility, and returned this historic and tasty Bourbon to the US market.

I.W. Harper makes only two products. Both are really good, but let’s talk about the task at hand. The I.W.Harper Straight Bourbon mash bill is 73% corn, 9% malted barley, and 18% rye. Like its older sister Bourbon, this is a center-cut spirit aged in new American white oak. It’s deliciously sweet, very smooth, and has a fruit-forward character and enough spice to hold your interest at 41% ABV. And even though it is an NAS (non-age statement) all Strait Bourbons must be aged a minimum of four years — but to our tastes, there’s a solid mix of some older Spirits in the bottle.

Flavor Spiral™

About The Flavor Spiral

What does I.W.Harper Straight Bourbon taste like?

The Flavor Spiral™ shows the most common flavors that you'll taste in I.W.Harper Straight Bourbon and gives you a chance to have a taste of it before actually tasting it.

We invented Flavor Spiral™ here at Flaviar to get all your senses involved in tasting drinks and, frankly, because we think that classic tasting notes are boring.
Dog Dogson
Dog Dogson's
Whisky or Whiskey? The spelling differs geographically. In Scotland and some other parts of the world distilleries usually spell it Whisky; in Ireland and USA they spell it Whiskey.

Tasting Notes

Appearance / Color
Bright Amber

Nose / Aroma / Smell
The aromas are light and fresh with notes of vanilla, split oak, Cracker jacks, and Chardonnay.

Flavor / Taste / Palate
The flavor profile is sweet with florals and vanilla caramel with orange blossom honey.

The finish is brisk with notes of white peaches and raisins.
Ratings & Reviews
For me, this is perfect. You can do anything with it. Old fashioned? Check. Whiskey sour? You bet. Manhattan? You can get away with it.
I.W. Harper is not a label I knew much about. I had seen the 15 year in its beautiful bottle and thought, "There must be something wonderful in there," but the brand had not appeared in reviews, discussions, or top lists that I had seen. The fact is, other than the 15 year, I wasn't sure what else, if anything, was even in the I.W. Harper line. This has a lot to do with the fact that the brand was pulled from the U.S. market in the mid-90s and sold primarily in Europe and Asia, only returning stateside in the last few years. I strolled into a neighborhood liquor store the other day and was delighted to see that they had I.W. Harper Straight Bourbon Whiskey. While the bottle itself didn't look quite so nice as the 15 year, the label and color scheme definitely put out an air of sophistication. At only $32, I thought it worth purchasing as the first bourbon I would own with no prior knowledge of its reputation or attributes. The Harper has a nice dark golden brown color and comes in at a sure to be smooth 82 proof. The nose is gentle with vanilla and oak, maybe some corn, and not much else. There is no age statement, other than it being a straight bourbon, but it smells like a young bourbon. The mouthfeel is smooth and not quite dry, but almost. The palate has a citrusy sweet profile with orange, vanilla, light brown sugar, and a nice cinnamon bite on the back of the tongue. The finish is moderate with oak and leather standing out along with a lingering sweetness. This is a good bourbon that I can sip neat or use in a cocktail. A higher proof or more time in the barrel, or both, would bring this bourbon to the next level, but as it stands this is just a pretty good bourbon and a pretty good price. I would say that while this label is not a must-have, it is worth trying and certainly makes me think the 15 year is probably outstanding.
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