View Full Version : I.W. Harper 100 proof - where are you?

Foolish Pleasure
10-02-2010, 00:11
Back when I was a young man, before the advent of high end bourbon, I loved I.W. Harper 100 proof. I drank it in the early 70s, but in succeeding years the need for frequent partying diminished and I dropped the habit. Years later in the late eighties I wandered into a liquor store in Louisville looking for my old friend and was infomed that all the product was being sold to Japan.

I'm just wondering who else remembers this stuff and whether they have an opinion of it's quality compared with an entry or mid level high end bourbon of today. As I remember it, it had a neutral oak taste with some citrus flavor at the side of the tongue. But then that's when I was paying attention to the girls and not the whiskey notes. However I do remember my firm assessment of the product as the best of it's era and I decorated a nearly empty apartment on the lower east side of NYC with a bookshelf filled with about 50 of the gold labeled bottles. So I'd like your opinions.

Next question: Is there any way to get it? Bernheim Distillery is, I believe, the manufacturer.

Third: Why don't we get some of the villagers together and storm the castle with torches. Why the hell is a good American bourbon unobtainable by Americans?

"It's always a pleasure"


10-02-2010, 04:14
I have bad news, my friend. The I.W. Harper you drank is no longer made. The company that owned the Bernheim distillery in Louisville, UDV, is now booze giant Diageo, owner of Guinness, Smirnoff, Taquerary, Cuervo, George Dickel, Johnny Walker, et al. Back in the 1990s around the time they became Diageo, they decided to get out of the bourbon distilling business. So they closed one of their two distilleries, Stitzel-Weller, and ended up selling Bernheim to Heaven Hill (makers of Evan Williams and Elijah Craig) who had just lost their distillery in Bardstown to a catastrophic fire. I hope I got all that straight.

The I.W. Harper sold overseas is made from whiskey Diageo buys from various distillers in Kentucky. So, sadly, even if we stormed the castle, what we would find when we got there would not be what we were seeking.

All that said, there are still old dusty bottles (or dusties as we call them around here) of Harper out there. There are a few Harper enthusiasts here who might be able to point you in the right direction if you want to find some of the old stuff.

And welcome to SB.com!

Foolish Pleasure
10-02-2010, 11:24
Josh, thanks for your knowledgeable reply. I did most of my grieving over this loss of an American standard back in the eighties, but it's still sad to get confirmation of its permanent and irretrievable disappearance.
I'd still like to hear from folks who remember and enjoyed.


"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain." [ "Roy" (Rutger Hauer), Blade Runner, 1982]


10-03-2010, 00:38
Foolish Pleasures

You really need to become a permanent fixture around here. You have made 2 post and I can tell your going to be an asset to this board. Please join us in chat some time it's the gazebo at the top of the main page.


10-05-2010, 07:02
The IW Harper is practically Unobtanium and I've looked high and low through a hundred plus stores...maybe 200.

10-05-2010, 08:14
A bottle of the 80 proof Harper was the first real dusty I ever bought. I bought it instead of the slope-shoulder OCPR on the shelf next to it. :lol:

What I see a lot more of are the Harper 15 y/o from the Bourbon Heritage Collection. I have also recently come across a Bicenntenial special bottling of I.W. Harper, but it was absurdly overpriced and I didn't feel like negotiating.

10-05-2010, 09:54
I see a fair amount of old Harpers on the shelves, but I don't think I've seen the 100 proof.

10-05-2010, 12:09
I see a ton of the 80 proof, and a fair amount of the 86. I have been lucky enough to find 2 750ml bottles of BIB and 3 500ml. They are out there.. but there are not many of em.

10-05-2010, 12:18
Here's an IWH BIB that I picked up at an estate sale. Barreled in 1963 and bottled in 1968. I've only seen the 80 proof dusties in the stores.

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2008-4/1304578/IWH68F.jpg http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2008-4/1304578/IWH68B.jpg

01-21-2011, 07:00
I.W. Harper was my favorite years ago, also. Recently a friend brought me back a bottle of 80 proof from Japan. I don't think it's the same as I remember from my 80's drinking days. Old Charter is my choice now. It's the closest I can find to the I.W. Harper I remember.

01-21-2011, 07:05
Here's an IWH BIB that I picked up at an estate sale. Barreled in 1963 and bottled in 1968. I've only seen the 80 proof dusties in the stores.

Those are great pictures. Very elegant look to the labels and bottles. I really should be hitting the estate sales more often than I do because they frequently turn up gems that I'd never find elsewhere.

01-21-2011, 07:08
A fellow enthusiast managed to snag me an early 80's IWH BIB. I can find plenty of the 80's vintage 80 proof and on a good day of hunting, the 86pf which I like quite a bit more than the 80pf (which I typically leave behind.)

01-21-2011, 07:14
I've looked high and low in S.C. No IWH dusties anywhere.

01-24-2011, 16:00
Hi FP, welcome aboard. Alas, poor Harper, I knew him well. I haven't seen a bottle of the original stuff in so long I couldn't even hazard a guess.

08-25-2011, 15:59
I found a shot glass marked "Old I.W.Harper" at a flea market and got it for a buck. Neat, vintage look, but glass is so thin I think it must have been a freebee packaged with a bottle.

08-25-2011, 19:29
I remember the Harper brand being sold in Ohio in the early 80's. I currently have most of the versions of the Harper brand except the BIB in the standard size!