I.W Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
After being unavailable in the U.S. for 20 years, Diageo has decided to bring back the historical I.W. Harper label stateside this spring. They are rolling out a permanent brand line under I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, along with a limited edition release that carries the same name but with different packaging and a 15-year-old age statement.
According to Diageo, both Bourbons were recently aging at their Stitzel-Weller Distillery warehouses, but the whiskies used were distilled at the New Bernheim Distillery. Their facility in Tullahoma, Tennessee bottled these Bourbons; the same place their Orphan Barrel releases have been bottled.
In the mid 1990’s, I.W. Harper was pulled out of the U.S. market and offered only in Asia; primarily Japan. The brand’s history goes back to 1872 when Isaac Wolfe (I.W.) Bernheim opened his own distillery.
There’s no age statement on the “base” expression, but it’s made from a mash of 73% corn, 18% rye, and 9% barley. It “was most recently aged at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Ky., and contains whiskeys distilled at the current Bernheim Distillery. It is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tenn.”
The nose is quiet, and a little sweaty at times with notes of walnut and some lumberyard. Vanilla emerges over time, with more salty shortbread character building on the palate. The finish offers almonds, with a touch of astringency.