Though the brand has changed hands a few times, I.W. Harper is back where it belongs, thanks to Diageo. The limited edition 15-year whiskey is produced in the original Bernheim distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. It has been aged most recently at the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
The bourbon distillery had humble beginnings as one of its founders, Isaac Wolfe Berhheim, came to New York from Germany in 1867 with a lowly $4 to his name. However, by the 1870’s, Isaac, his brother Bernard, and silent partner Eldridge Palmer started the Bernheim Brothers distillery in Kentucky with $3,200. This was quite the turnaround for two industrious immigrants. In this same decade, the brothers re-branded as I.W. Harper and a legend was born
The brother’s product was quickly recognized throughout the country, most notably taking home gold at the Chicago’s world fair in 1893. A huge reason why I.W. Harper was so profitable so quickly was that it was one of only ten distilleries legally allowed to still remain in production during prohibition–for medicinal purposes. The love affair between this incredible concoction and the world at large continued to grow as it became an international sensation.
Fast forward to today, and this 15-year bourbon whiskey is the stuff of dreams. At first sniff, cherries and apricots alert the senses of the warmth about to be provided by the handcrafted beverage. Notes of chocolate and lemon come in a second waft, and balance each other out with the lightness of citrus and deep rhythm of cacao. A flurry of emotions ensue as the drink embraces you with your first sip. The first impression is one of glowing caramel and heavy oak–an all too familiar feeling for us bourbon lovers. You are welcomed home, and yet there is a surprise in this rare version of an old favorite. It’s the balance of sweet and dry notes that really make it a home run. The smooth, fruity flavors provide a delicate coating for the deeper ones to kick through as you swallow.
This limited edition legendary bourbon whiskey is one that cannot be missed out on. The return of I.W. Harper to its origins is an occasion that should not be celebrated without a glass of its 15-year creation. Be sure to pick up a bottle at our East St. store, or reserve yours today. After trying it, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below.