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Review: I.W. Harper 15 Year

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I am excited for this one! I originally saw this bottle at a liquor store up in Cashiers, North Carolina and I made the regretful decision to pass on it at the time.  I spent the next year trying to find a bottle with no luck. However, I had an opportunity to go visit the bourbon trail in August and I was finally able to get my hands on a bottle of this 15-year gem.

First, let’s talk about the presentation. We can all agree that the only thing that truly matters is the bourbon in the bottle. But let’s be honest, Diageo did an exceptional job with the packaging on this one. This decanter-style bottle is reminiscent of better days and is a welcomed addition to any home bar!

The Harper brand was founded in 1872 by Isaac Wolfe (I.W.) Bernheim (yes, that Berheim). Unfortunately, despite the long list of awards and accolades, the brand changed hands many times over and beginning in the 1990s this bourbon was unavailable in the U.S. The brand was then purchased by Diageo and the decision was made to finally start selling I.W. Harper again in March 2015. The bourbon in these bottles was distilled at the Bernheim Distillery, aged in Stitzel-Weller warehouses, and then bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The mashbill includes 86% corn, 6% rye, and 8% malted barley. This bourbon comes in at 86 proof (43% abv). Finally, the bottle includes a 15-year age statement. With that much time in the barrel, it is no wonder why this bourbon is so smooth.

Tasting:

Appearance – golden amber.

Nose – almonds, sweet vanilla, caramel, light cherry.

Palate – This is thick, unctuous bourbon that really coats your mouth. There is an initial fruity sweetness that is balanced nicely with oak and leather. Hints of raisins and caramel also begin to come through.

Finish – the finish is exceptionally smooth and long with no burn. Light oak and toffee notes fade to milk chocolate and toasted almonds.

Overall – I am very thankful I was able to get a bottle of this bourbon. The presentation is beautiful and the bourbon inside the bottle does not disappoint. The flavors are subtle but they develop nicely and linger for just the right amount of time. Much like Blanton’s, this is the type of bourbon you want to put out on display and only share with good friends!

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