View Full Version : Bourbon Brand Question

11-25-2010, 21:04
I found this in a liquor cabinet today. Is it a fancy rare type, or something usual?


11-25-2010, 21:36
It was something usual 20 yrs ago and long before that. It's not made (at least for U.S. consumption) anymore. It has its fans, but I find it a little dull. Not bad mind you, but dull. There was also a 15 y/o Harper that was a part of the Bourbon Heritage Collection, and a BiB.

Do a search on Harper. An abundence of info will be at your fingertips!

11-26-2010, 06:27
Thank you for the info. I was kind of hoping this was something rare, but oh well.

11-26-2010, 08:54
Send that to me for testing purposes. I am one of the fans of IW harper. Better than a lot of wha is on the market today.

11-26-2010, 13:06
Dull is a very good description. Kinda like Jack Daniels (you heard me). The higher proof versions are better. I've had bad bottles of the Harper from the early 80's and there are lots of other reports of bad bottles, so good luck with that one.

11-27-2010, 15:53
I. W. Harper is a Diageo product.

Back in the 1980s, I. W. Harper was just another mainstream bourbon, equivalent to a Jim Beam White or a Jack Daniel's black. It had lost a lot of market share and gotten very cheap.

Meanwhile, in Japan, bourbon was taking off with the younger generation and I. W. Harper was an early beneficiary of that boom. It became the best-selling bourbon in Japan and, more importantly, it supported a very profitable, premium price-point. The gap between the retail price in Japan and the wholesale price in the USA was so great that clever entrepreneurs (with access to retail licenses) bought large quantities at wholesale in the U.S. and exported Harper to Japan 'unofficially.' This is known as a gray market enterprise, because it's unofficial but not illegal.

This unofficial traffic was costing UDV (a predecessor of Diageo) a lot of money but the only way they could stop it was to take I. W. Harper off the U.S. market, except for a few small markets, all control states, where they could be sure no one was diverting product to Japan. By now it seems to be entirely unavailable in the U.S., except for dusties.

Sales in the U.S. were so bad by that point that they lost little by discontinuing it here compared to what they were making in Japan. It was never anything special but, like any brand, it had its fans. People also seek it just because they can't get it.

Since Diageo has no active bourbon distilleries, today's I. W. Harper is spirit made by someone else (Beam, Brown-Forman, Tom Moore) and aged at Stitzel-Weller.