I.W. Harper Bourbon
The I.W. Harper Release Party:
I first heard about I.W. Harper Bourbon returning to the U.S. not too long ago. On March 9, 2015 ABC News published an article proclaiming I.W. Harper’s return from their 20 year hiatus. As a bourbon enthusiast I was excited to learn of a new bourbon that would hit the shelf in my local liquor store. I have said many times that I love the bourbon industry for many reasons but something really unique about it is the story of every brand. I.W. Harper is certainly not lacking in history.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the I.W. Harper release party on March 19, 2015 at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest; one of the many perks of writing spirit reviews over the last 3 years. When I get super busy and feel burdened with publishing content from time to time it’s events like this one that remind me why I take the time to contribute to this industry. When I learned that the release party was at Bernheim, I was pretty ecstatic for a couple reasons. First off, my prior experiences at Bernheim Forest were being tortured by the Louisville Track program running workouts around the park. I didn’t have to think too deeply to know this event would be far more enjoyable than my prior experiences. Secondly, from those track workouts I knew that Bernheim was a beautiful place and the welcome center would serve as an awesome venue for the return of I.W. Harper Bourbon to the states. It’s especially meaningful for I.W. Harper since Isaac Wolfe Bernheim originally created this delicious product and Bernheim Forest is his legacy.
Since you can’t go alone to any event, I asked my good friend Micah Hundley to attend the event with me. As we were driving out to Bernheim we had to note that Diageo was conducting this event across the street from Jim Beam. It’s time’s like this, as a whiskey lover, that I’m extremely grateful that two globally branded spirits can be so closely concentrated geographically. There are few better residences that I could choose to live in than Louisville, KY to experience everything the whiskey industry has to offer. The welcome center itself at Bernheim Forest is absolutely gorgeous. It’s hard to imagine a better venue for this gathering of bourbon hobbyists.
Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by the hosts and the wait staff was most courteous. Prior to the tasting they held off on any whiskey or cocktails to be served to preserve our palates but they were more than generous with delicious hors d’oeuvre’s. As someone that has been dieting for almost 3 months these were even more of a guilty pleasure. There was a good mix of people from different backgrounds and professions, all down-to-earth and in attendance for the same reason, to sample, celebrate and appreciate the return of I.W. Harper Bourbon to the U.S.
The release party was organized expertly. Michael Veach was in attendance to provide detailed history of I.W. Harper and Isaac Wolfe Bernheim. Veach is the Bourbon Historian for the prestigious Filson Historical Society. His depth of knowledge is quite impressive. As he was sharing the extensive history of I.W. Harper, in attendance was Isaac Wolfe Bernheim’s Great Grandson, Tom Block. Everything fit like a glove.
Brand Info Provided by I.W. Harper Below:
I.W. Harper Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Product Background: The I.W. Harper brand is returning home for the first time in nearly 20 years, with the release of I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The unique offering commemorates the original whiskeys produced by the brand, as it’s reintroduced in the United States with a commitment to authenticity that only 142 years of experience can provide.
BACKGROUND: In 1867, German immigrant Isaac Wolfe (I.W.) Bernheim arrived in America with four dollars in his pocket and dreams of a better life. By 1872, he had founded his own distillery, Bernheim Brothers and Company, soon acquiring the trademark to produce the whiskey ultimately known as I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The whiskey won its first gold medal in 1885 and continued to gain popularity across the country and around the world throughout the twentieth century. By the mid 1990’s, the I.W. Harper brand shifted its focus to the Asian market and ceased distribution in the United States. Nearly 20 years later, the I.W. Harper brand is returning to the U.S. with two new Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys for legal drinking age consumers to enjoy.
ORIGIN: I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 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.
PRODUCTION: The mash bill for I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is approximately 73% corn, 18% rye and 9% barley.
PRODUCT PACKAGING: The I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey packaging is inspired by the rich history of the legendary brand, featuring the iconic bowing man and diamond labels that helped make the original instantly recognizable. The bottle is a modern interpretation of a classic I.W. Harper embossed bottle.
TASTING NOTES: Beginning with a subtle nose, I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey leaves traces of caramel and vanilla on entry before melting into creamy bursts of wood and spice. The finish is sweet and pleasant with subtle fruit notes.
ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 82 proof, 41% (ABV)
SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $34.99
I.W. Harper 15 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
ABOUT I.W. HARPER: I.W. Harper evokes a sense of timeless gentility to provide premium whiskey to a new generation. As a testament to the authentic quality which sustained the decades, the Bowing Man remains as the iconic symbol of I.W. Harper. The Bowing Man stands to remind us— anywhere, anytime, it’s always a pleasure™. These traditions remain as two new Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys will be released to American consumers in 2015 as the next chapter in I.W. Harper’s expansive story. Welcome home, Mr. Harper.
PRODUCT BACKGROUND: Iconic whiskey brand I.W. Harper is returning to the United States with a limited release of 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The whiskey, which was inspired by the original I.W. Harper releases, will be available in Spring 2015 and will offer American consumers lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle a richness of taste and history only the I.W. Harper brand can provide.
PRODUCTION: The mash bill for I.W. Harper 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is approximately 86% corn, 6% rye and 8% barley.
PRODUCT PACKAGING: The I.W. Harper 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey packaging is inspired by the rich history of the legendary brand, featuring the iconic bowing man and diamond labels that helped make the original instantly recognizable. The bottle is a modern interpretation of the classic I.W. Harper Whiskey decanter bottle.
TASTING NOTES: Sweeter up front with grain and corn immediately apparent, I.W. Harper 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey then moves into notes of oak, raisin, caramel, spice and vanilla. The finish leaves a long and lasting mouthfeel perfect for sipping over conversation with adult friends and family. I.W. Harper 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is recommended to be enjoyed on the rocks or neat to truly appreciate the full flavor profile.
ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 86 proof, 43% ABV
SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $74.99
1.3 oz. I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
.25 oz. Cruz Conde Vermouth
Dash Aromatic Bitters
1.3 oz. I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Bar spoon of Demerara syrup
2 dashes Aromatic Bitters
The I.W. Harper Straight Bourbon Whiskey release party was a very enjoyable event and exceeded all expectations. The hosts and attendees were as pleasant and nuanced as the bourbon. Micah and I met lots of great people and were sad to see the event come to a close. Alas, departure was necessary so we said our goodbyes and began our journey home. As we left Bernheim, there was one last reminder of the special experience that we had just partaken of as the gate to the forest had been left open for our exit. One could quickly dismiss this but I couldn’t help but feel grateful. It was as if Tom Block, Great Grandson to Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, had left the gate to his property open for us as we left. One last tip of the cap from the iconic bowing man!
~Special Thanks to Taylor Strategy for the invite to the event. You all are the best and I look forward to many more well-organized events in the future. ~