In the last few years, whiskey has grown in popularity. With so many brands available and new distilleries emerging or redefining themselves, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the options. This column is here to help you learn the basics of various whiskies, scotches and bourbons before you invest in a new bottle.
The spirit: I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight
You can't talk about this bourbon without talking about its rich history. The history lesson starts with Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, a German immigrant who arrived in New York in 1867 with only $4 in his pocket. He found his way into a job as a bookkeeper at a wholesale liquor business. When he was denied a partnership after years of work at the firm, I.W. Bernheim and his brother set off on their own, and in 1872, a legend was born.
As one of only 10 distilleries allowed to legally produce for medicinal purposes, the Bernheim brothers thrived during Prohibition. I.W. Harper's popularity grew so much by the 1950s that this bourbon was on every international Oceania cruise liner. By 1966, I.W. Harper's brand had become an international sensation; it could be found all over the world as it became a bourbon enjoyed in 110 countries.
You can see Bond, James Bond, drinking I.W. Harper over ice. Now how cool is that?!
One of the crown achievements for this bourbon was being featured in Ian Fleming's classic James Bond novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and later in the movie by the same title. You can see Bond, James Bond, drinking I.W. Harper over ice. Now how cool is that?!
In the 1990s, however, the U.S. bourbon market was failing and thus I.W. Harper stopped distributing here to focus on international markets. But this year, it's making a comeback. The more I learn about his bottle the more I can't help but think that my taste has been slightly influenced by extraordinary history.
Here's what to expect...
Nose: Traces of caramel, vanilla, and wood notes
Palate: Sweet mouth feel of the caramel before melting into velvety bursts of wood and spice.
Finish: Sweet and pleasant with subtle fruit notes, and an underlying taste of caramel or toffee.
Recommended? Yes; any drink that is good enough for James Bond, is good enough for you.
Booze News Insider Josh Hart is an amateur reviewer, but a professional drinker. He has been sipping and learning about whiskeys for a more than a decade and hopes to help you sift through the basics, to find the best bottles for you.