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  1. #21
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: I. W. Harper in Virginia - Mission Failed

    I hope I haven't created an undue frenzy about I.W. Harper. The whiskey itself is the same as readily available Old Charter. It has the lowest rye content (about 8%) of any bourbon and was made by United Distillers at Bernheim in Louisville. Obviously, the 15 year old would be from the old distillery at Bernheim.

  2. #22
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    Re: IW Harper = Old Charter?

    While Old Charter is still not readily available in VA, at least it's available within a reasonable driving distance, so if it's the same whiskey, crisis averted! Just to make sure I've got this right:

    My bottle of IW Harper is 80 proof, and the label states "this whiskey is 4 years old." The Old Charter varieties I am most accustomed to seeing in travels to Tennessee and MD are the 8, 10, and 12 yo. Is there a 4 yo 80 proof version of Old Charter that's widely available? Or are you saying that OC is the same whiskey at a different age/proof?

    If there is a 4 yo Old Charter, I could just refill my IW Harper bottle periodically with it and have a "rarity" on our bar...

    Of course, just asking this question makes me think I may focus too much on age and possibly proof differences. Is there a general rule of thumb regarding how many years difference makes a whiskey unique? Or is 4 year old whiskey, regardless of rarity, considered not that unique if an older version is available?

    Thanks yet again for the whiskey insight. It makes sense that I enjoy IWH and also really like OC 10 & 12 yo.

  3. #23
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: IW Harper = Old Charter?

    I believe the 8-year-old is the baby of the Charter family. When I say Charter and Harper are the same whiskey, I mean that when UDV was making both of them, both products came from the same mash bill and the same still. When products are subsequently bottled, factors of age and proof come into play as does the distiller's effort to match previous batches of that product. I suppose to be scrupulously correct I should have said they are substantially the same.

  4. #24
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    Re: IW Harper = Old Charter?

    I've got it now. Thanks for clarifying and having patience for those of us still stuck in Bourbon 101.

    It's good to know that there is still some whiskey available that is a "sibling" of IWH - ie, if someone is curious about IWH, I could offer OC 8 yo as very similar, just older.

    Overall, though, I still see it as a bummer. At the risk of getting overly philosophical:

    Q: What's my favorite bourbon?
    A: The one for which I'm in the mood when I get out the glass!

    Having been a somewhat regular consumer of IWH 4 yo for about 7 years, I foresee missing it occasionally over and above the "we always want what we can't have" factor.

    Nevertheless, we only recently got our first bottle of OC 8 yo, and, candidly, have not compared the two whiskeys in a tasting. Maybe I will find them very similar subjectively, too. If not, maybe over time I can use the power of suggestion to my advantage by pouring an OC 8 and saying to myself three times "Chuck Cowdery says this is substantially the same as IWH." Hmmmm. It might be working already.

  5. #25
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: IW Harper = Old Charter?

    If it's any consolation, don't be surprised if you see I.W. Harper emerge again soon. Diageo, its owner, is showing renewed interest in the American Straight Whiskey category. Right now it is putting its energy into re-launching (is this the third or fourth time?) Bulleit Bourbon, but I.W. Harper might be next. If Diageo doesn't start to drive the brand they may sell it, which would be another reason for it to reappear. I understand Diageo's neglect has caused the brand to decline in Japan, its best market. If something does happen with Harper, it probably will happen there first.

    It's also possible that its absense from Virginia right now is temporary, a hiccup in the distribution chain. It's hard to get listings in control states like Virginia and I doubt Diageo would want to give it up, even if it isn't a huge money maker.

  6. #26
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    Re: IW Harper = Old Charter?

    Actually, that IS consolation. I never thought about the motivation to keep your place in a control state and certainly was oblivious to the marketing/exporting intricacies of the IWH brand. Thanks again for the inside scoop!

  7. #27
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: IW Harper =Issac Wolfe Bernheim

    A little historical background on I.W. Harper.

    I spent my "Mother's Day" at Bernheim Arboretum, with all three of my of children (young adults) and my husband Pat. We had a nice picnic lunch and went riding bicycles through just a tad bit of the 40 miles available for hiking and cycling...

    They gave me a brochure. This info was on it...

    Issac Wolfe Bernheim (1848-1945) established Bernheim in 1929. Mr. Bernheim was a German immigrant who settled in Kentucky. From a humble beginning as a peddler, he became successful distilling bourbon whiskey, which he sold under the I.W. Harper brand. Grateful for his good fortune, he bought and founded Bernheim as a gift to the people of Kentucky. In 1992, the Kentucky legislature designeted Bernheim Kentucky's Officail Arboretum.

    Ya learn somethin' everyday

    Bettye Jo
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #28
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: IW Harper =Issac Wolfe Bernheim

    I'm with Bettye Jo. Anyone planning a trip to the Bardstown area should allow some time for a visit to Bernheim Forest. A pic from my last visit there.

  9. #29
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    Re: IW Harper =IW Bernheim; Old Harper =?

    Bettye Jo - thanks for more fascinating background info on a brand to which I seem to have become pathologically attached. Assuming good weather, maybe Tina and I can make a trip to Bernheim Forest in September. Chuck's pix have piqued my interest, and I'm sure Tina, who is much more the outdoor/gardening enthusiast, would love it. If it's any indication of her enthusiasm, she spent a good hour on Mother's Day pruning lilac bushes, claiming that it was "relaxing."

    Your post prompted a tangential question. Early on, I mistakenly referred to IW Harper as "Old Harper," which Chuck immediately noted and called to my attention. If hazy memory serves me correctly, "Old Harper" is the name of the whiskey that one of the characters in the film "American Graffiti" tries to buy underage.

    My question: was "Old Harper" a real brand, or was it distilled from the mind of George Lucas and his co-writers?

    As you may have perceived from the Fast Eddie Felsen/Hustler posts, I'm fascinated by the intersection of whiskey and movie trivia.

  10. #30
    Bourbonian of the Year 2004 and Guru
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    Re: IW Harper =IW Bernheim; Old Harper =?

    My question: was "Old Harper" a real brand, or was it distilled from the mind of George Lucas and his co-writers?

    I don't have a clue ...All I know "for sure" it's not a Heaven Hill label. Maybe somebody on these forums can answer it?

    Bettye Jo

 

 

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