View Full Version : any info on IW Harper and Old Charter

02-21-2003, 20:23
Does anyone know the history, tasting, and availability of these to brands? I was told, they are both sweet.

02-22-2003, 11:53
Regarding the Old Charter, a search in the tasting forum will turn up several hits, including this review (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&Board=Tasting&Number=8154&Fo rum=Tasting&Words=old%20charter&Match=Entire%20Phr ase&Searchpage=0&Limit=25&Old=allposts&Main=8154&S earch=true#Post8154) by the undersigned.

I didn't try a similar search for I.W. Harper. That's a brand that I don't remember seeing for perhaps 20 years or more. Is it still available where you live?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

02-22-2003, 12:12
Both I.W. Harper and Old Charter are venerable old bourbon brands. Both have seen better days, at least in the USA. As for their taste, they are certainly no sweeter than any other bourbons. They are both traditional rye-recipe bourbons and for most of recent history they were essentially the same whiskey, made by United Distillers at their Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. Today, Harper is still owned by Diageo, the successor company to United, while Charter is owned by Buffalo Trace. Old Charter, in a number of different expressions, is pretty widely available in the USA, especially in the South. It's good, especially the 12-year-old 90-proof "Classic." I.W. Harper is generally not available in the USA, but is very popular in Japan. It was withdrawn from the USA market to prevent grey market exports to Japan

02-22-2003, 15:07
I was a few different bottlings of Old Charter and one bottling of IW Harper. I bought the Classic 90, 12 yr, and of course had an shot already. It's good. I can't quite describe it, yet. I also saw IW Harper at 80 proof. I think, I'll get to it next. But, I have to fully experience the Old Charter first.
mark h. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif

02-22-2003, 16:27
I found a bottle of the 15 year I.W. Harper 80 proof from the Heritage Collection some time ago at a pretty good discount... (I heard it went for upwards of $30 and for $20 figured I couldn't really go wrong. I was wrong.) I wasn't really too impressed for the mere fact that it seemed too 'light' of a bourbon at only 80 proof. Maybe many years ago I would have thought differently about it but now I find myself requiring a little more 'oomph' in my selections.

--> Mark R.

02-22-2003, 16:57
I purchased a bottle of the I.W. Harper 15 yr. 80 proof shortly after I started seriously tasting whiskies. For 35 bucks, I was less than thrilled. I agree....I believe the proof was too low for such a bourbon and resulted in something that was light and boring. It was, for me, one of the bigger disappointments I've had in buying and sampling bourbons.

02-22-2003, 18:58
I agree with you fellas. Eighty proof is light, especially after Stagg, Bookers, Noah's Mill, and Old Grand Dad 114. I hope other brands take up the challenge to produce bourbons of that strength. If not at least up to 107 proof or 100 proof. The price didn't deter the demand for Stagg. And compared to single-malt, they are a bargain. I do know, that Stagg turned the heads of some of the most committed single-malt only drinkers.
mark h.

02-23-2003, 15:32
Hey Gang----

Hold everything on I W Harper. I W Harper was part of the Bourbon Hertiage Collection that you are talking about. United Distillers put these together: George Dickell Special Barrel Reserve (Tenn. whiskey), W. L. Weller Centennial Wheated, I. W. Harper Gold Medal, Very Special Old Fitzgerald (wheated), and Old Charters Proprietor's Reserve. They came out in 1994 and this gave the bourbon drinkers of the US a chance to taste an assortment of the finest bourbon produced in differing styles. This collection was probably more responsible for some of the great bourbons we have today. You must remember there were not too many of the bourbons we have today around at that time. These are truly great bourbons today as they were in 1994.


02-23-2003, 16:07
Marvin, you are right about that! A very happy day for me was when I found a bottle of that 35 dollar 80 proof Harper. I needed it to round out the Bourbon Heritage Collection. And it was mostly long gone, I had walked passed a bottle of it at Liquor Barn and bought stuff like Beam and HH and then it was gone. I found one, bought it, and haven't looked back. I probably won't open it . I may sell all 5 of them at some point, at the same time to one person.

02-23-2003, 16:19
Marvin, please do not misunderstand my stance. I agree with you that for what they all represent(ed), they are remarkable bourbons... But when it comes to palatability (compared to today's expressions) I personally would pass on the I. W. Harper, as well as the VSOF. I've tried them all now and have unopened bottles of all 5 on display (along with all the other bottles in the collection) to represent exactly what you said about them, that in their day they gave people a chance to taste a varying assortment of very fine bourbons. And opened up the market to the finer expressions we have today. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif

--> Mark R.

02-23-2003, 17:21
That is quite an impressive display of bourbonic wealth!


02-23-2003, 19:28
Just how many bottles are in your bunker??????

Mine is a mini-bunker and not likely to get much larger than it already is. All of these are unopened of course, and have an open representative in the main liquor cabinet (except Woodside).

* 7 bottles GTS
* 3 bottles ORVW Rye, 13 yo
* 2 bottles Woodside Partner's Reserve (waiting for me in CA)
* 1 bottle WT 12 yo (waiting for me in KY)
* 1 bottle 1.75L Buffalo Trace
* 1 bottle ETL SB

02-23-2003, 19:40
that would be good thread. "Just how many and what do you have in your bunker?" I was always wondering, what other's bunkers looked like. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif I bet some collections are really impressive. Mine is a starter set.

Noah's Mill
ORVW 10yr. 107
WT Kentucky Spirit
and always 6-Woodford Reserve

mark h.

02-23-2003, 19:55
I agree. The other thing is, can these items have improved some eight years on? I believe bourbon and rye improve in the bottle. Tasted now, they may well be much better than in 1996.

02-23-2003, 20:37
When you say "bunker". do you mean just unopened bottles being held in reserve? If so, I have only three: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, Rare Breed, and Woodford Reserve.

I have quite a few very nice open bottles, though.


02-23-2003, 20:51
Bourbo- Bunker was a phrase coined by Linn to describe my stash that everyone who came to the cookout here , saw. I think the definition is, It's your stash , no matter what it is , a little or a lot and opened or sealed.( Believe me there are people here that have enough to make my stash look like a starter kit) http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif

02-23-2003, 21:15
Marvin probably has "ONE" of the better stashes around...I think that he has around 350 in his collection...That's a lot...

In his collection he has the Evan Williams 23 year...It's signed...He bought it at the distiller's auction many years ago...He gave $500.00 + for it...He will be quick to tell you that he didn't mind doing it because it went for a worthy cause http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif ...My favorite... http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif ...

http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif Bettye Jo http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif

02-23-2003, 23:00
Here are my definitions.

stash = everything you own

liquor cabinet = your public display; anything open (or about to be) and ready for consumption; includes special occasion bourbons rarely touched but ready should the master decide to imbibe

bunker = your private reserve, usually hidden in the pantry or basement; what you have in reserve that will eventually make it to your liquor cabinet when there is an opening

collection = anything, whether public (liquor cabinet) or private (bunker), that you have no intention of ever opening

So, by these definitions,

stash = liquor cabinet + bunker + collection.

What I described earlier was my bunker, per the above definitions. Actually, I only have one bottle in a "collection" (EW Millenium). Everything else in my house is fair game. I don't see the sense in paying money for anything if I don't intend to drink it. The only exception in my case is to save something for novelty, e.g., the EWM.

02-23-2003, 23:01
Well, go ahead and start it! http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif

02-23-2003, 23:03
It's good to hear from the rational bourbonians. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif

At times, it's hard to resist getting bourbo-envy from the many fine stashes/bunkers/collections we hear about here. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/crazy.gif

02-23-2003, 23:05
You are avoiding the question, Bobby! Spill your guts, man!

02-24-2003, 09:51
United had a very different attitude about bourbon than did its successor, Diageo, and this introduction of the Bourbon Heritage Collection was a powerful example of this. The Bourbon Heritage Collection was inspired directly by United's Classic Malts Collection, the difference being that the "Classic Malts" were all existing expressions of those brands, while the Bourbon Heritage Collection created new expressions of established brands.

02-24-2003, 12:55
For pictures, there already is a thread ("Show us your Stash") Dedicated to such things. I am interested to some extent in listings too, that would be an interesting thread.


02-24-2003, 12:56
I have exactly:


unopened bottles in my bunker at the moment. There is one in transit, though.


02-24-2003, 16:46
Thanks, Bobby. That makes me feel better.

I rarely buy bottles to keep unopened. If I buy it, I'm damn well going to open it. When my open bottle of OFBB becomes empty, I will open the other one. "You can't take it with you."


02-25-2003, 14:16
This is not a contradiction, merely a query.
</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
I believe bourbon and rye improve in the bottle.

I do believe changes take place after the original uncorking/opening, I want to hear your thoughts about changes in the bottle.

02-27-2003, 05:05
Hi, here is my thinking.

The predominant influence on whiskey in casks, apart from the charred layer interaction, is the air. We know that aging tends to remove the congeners (harsh flavour compounds).

This is partly a result of oxidation of compounds in the whiskey.

There is air of course in bottles and more gets in through any closure. We have all seen older bottles steadily lose ounces to this process. There is no further imparting of char flavour because no cask, but the oxidation process goes on.

My experience is that all whiskey gets better in the bottle through this process because bottle storage is a kind of modified cask storage.

Second, even the selection I was commenting on, not to mention older bottles, likely lost some liquid. So you get a concentration of flavour.

Even losing half an ounce, say, will concentrate the flavours more.

I once read of an experiment where the same bourbon bottles were opened and one had that device wine buffs sometimes use to exclude air in the bottle (thus to keep it "new") and the other bottle was left half-full. Three years later they were tasted. Everyone preferred the one exposed to air.

The experiment continued and a different group tasting the same bottles some time later reached the opposite conclusion! But generally I would say any whiskey made from any fermentable materials should improve in bottle if (still) well-sealed. It has to be sealed enough so no off flavours get in, e.g. off odours from a kitchen or basement. All my liquors are kept under the kitchen sink and I check the closures regularly to make sure they are staunch enough not to let the wrong odours in. The air in the bottles is clean and I believe it softens the whiskey. I sometimes shake the bottle around a bit to let more air get in (barrels are rolled in warehouses). My bottles are not intended for long storge and I doubt any concentration occurs (maybe a very little) from evaporation. But the air seems to work on them in a good way.