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.
Very nice nose, you can really smell the honey. The first taste is strong, but not lingering. Very distinctive sweetness at first, followed by a nice warmth. A clean finish that doesn't leave any aftertaste.
This is different and special bourbon. I love it. It has a very distinctive nose of roasted peanuts and toasting marshmallows. Palate is extremely smooth, with subtle flavors of caramel and a whiff of pine, overripe persimmon, with a pronounced and constant symphony of cocoa dust. And to be honest it is a bit of an oak blast. With bigger sips, a cherry note emerges and wonderfully dominates. The finish just keeps delivering with mild spices, milk chocolate, and sweet corn. Creamy, dreamy and unique, I will definitely be coming back for more. Highly recommend. Very unique. Hunker down and fight through the oak like a man, to enjoy the more subtle aspects of this one.