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  1. #1
    Connoisseur
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    I W Harper 4 yr. 86 proof

    I picked up a dusty bottle of Harper 4 yr 86 proof in LA today. Unfortunately the strip across the top of the bottle has chipped away. Does anyone know how recently Harper was bottled at this proof?

    Thanks.
    -Mike
    "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

    -True Grit by Charles Portis

  2. #2
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    Mike,
    Could you put up a picture of it?

    Here are a few questions I would have to help date it:

    1) Does it have a Tamper-Evident (TE) cap? This is the type that snaps off the bottom portion. Bettye Jo and others have said this generally came in during the early '90s.
    2) If no TE cap, does it appear it used to have a real ATF tax stamp? These ended about 1981, but evidently the ATF allowed bottlers to use up all the left-over tape, just presumably they required there not be a number sequence that mimicked the real ATF style. Brown Forman used ATF labels with their own numbering system well into the mid-80s.
    3) If there's both a TE cap AND a strip stamp (faux tax stamp), that also helps establish the date to late '80s, early '90s - and probably not later.

    A photo will help, these are just idle thoughts. It's a bad picture, but one of my BIB bottles is shown here

    Roger

    PS To answer your question, I have what I thought were 1988 bottles that are 80 proof. They have strip stamps, but no TE caps. they are shown here. I wouldn't know if Harper concurrently made 80 and 86 proof versions.
    Last edited by Rughi; 03-02-2006 at 15:43.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Rughi
    ...2) If no TE cap, does it appear it used to have a real ATF tax stamp? These ended about 1981, but evidently the ATF allowed bottlers to use up all the left-over tape, just presumably they required there not be a number sequence that mimicked the real ATF style. Brown Forman used ATF labels with their own numbering system well into the mid-80s...
    Just a couple of 'by-the-way' points: The law repealing the use of the federal liquor tax stamp was passed during the first Reagan Administration in 1982, and went into effect sometime in 1984 (I'm too lazy to find the exact date). Several distillers continued use of the unnumbered 'tax' strips into the '90s as the equivalent of a tamper-evident seal.
    Tim

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNbourbon
    Just a couple of 'by-the-way' points: The law repealing the use of the federal liquor tax stamp was passed during the first Reagan Administration in 1982, and went into effect sometime in 1984 (I'm too lazy to find the exact date). Several distillers continued use of the unnumbered 'tax' strips into the '90s as the equivalent of a tamper-evident seal.
    So 1982 and 1983 would still be tax stamp years? It makes sense, I just never noticed, I guess...
    Roger

  5. #5
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    Harper 86

    Roger, my bottle looks almost identical to the 1988 bottles you posted except for an "86 proof" label on the neck. The cap is not the tamper resistant type you describe. On one of the remaining pieces of the strip that's still stuck to the neck of the bottle is a series of numbers, so I don't think it's a faux strip. Also the cap is red rather than gold.

    I did notice that in the Regan's Book of Bourbon they list an 86 proof IW Harper, so it was still being bottled as late as the mid-90's but I imagine this bottle is older than that. I'll try to get a picture and post it, but it's essentially the same bottle as those you show only at a proof between the 80 and the BIB.

    Thanks for the pics and the info.

    -Mike
    "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

    -True Grit by Charles Portis

  6. #6
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    Harper 86 tasted!

    I finally sampled this tonight and it was TERRIFIC. I enjoyed it neat, but when I added a couple of cubes of ice it really opened up. It was like drinking some kind of caramel flavored ambrosia. All the brown sugar sweetness of the bourbon really popped. I've never had Harper, though I enjoyed an old bottle of Louisville Old Charter while I was visiting my dad not too long ago.

    Anyway, I recommend this bottle without reservation. I'll be looking for another one.

    -Mike
    "This is the real article. It is double-rectified busthead from Madison County, aged in the keg. A little spoonful would do you a power of good."

    -True Grit by Charles Portis

 

 

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