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Thread: I.W. Harper

  1. #11
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    Just bumping this thread and trying to obtain a coherent overview of Harper.

    Koji describes various brands available in Japan 4 years ago.

    My questions:

    i) are all these still available in Japan? (Ed, feel free to reply since I am not sure how often Koji looks in to the board)

    ii) if not, which are the brands of Harper currently available in Japan?

    iii) who made the ones available in 2002 in Japan?

    iv) who makes the ones available in Japan today?

    v) UDV/Diageo sold Bernheim in about '96 to Heaven Hill. Does this mean all Harper on the market today was made before the sale? Presumably any 12 and 15 year old Harper on the market (anywhere) today was made by UDV/Diageo, but what of the younger whiskeys? Does HH (or someone else) make it under the Harper label (i.e., did HH or another company buy the Harper label when the plant was sold? This would seem unlikely because Chuck said recently HH makes only one rye-recipe bourbon and I doubt they would fill current Harper bottles with that. If as I think is the case Diageo still owns the label, who makes the whiskey for them (unless all current inventory is pre-plant sale stock)?

    I guess I am looking for a synthesis of the older threads to understand the I.W. Harper picture and whether taste changes can be noted as a result of different plants making the brand.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 05-19-2006 at 09:34.

  2. #12
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    These are interesting questions you raise, Gary.

    All I can tell you, is that Mike Veach, not so long ago,told us that I.H. Presidentīs reserve came from Stitzel Weller stock. (I believe him.)

    As for the Harper 12yo, well, Iīve been getting more and more confused for each passing month about this one. When I bought it, I took my cue from J. Murrayīs Bourbon book and regarded it as a product from one of the distilleries that preceded Bernheim.

    I thought, hey!, this is 12 years old so the obvious thing to do was to compare with the OC Classic 90 which, by then, I was pretty familiar with. To this day, I wil stick to my guns and say that they have very similar noses but to taste is something altogether different.

    As noted by many on this forum, OC 90 has a surprisingly strong rye presence for a purportedly rye-poor Bourbon. The 12yo Harper, on the other hand, has very little, if any, rye presence. I would describe it as sweet and dry. So maybe this is a SW product as well?

    By the way, I am not 100 % sure, but I think that the post who started this thread was my first ever post on SB.com. Back then I was a newbie in extremis. The only high-end bourbons that I had tried were the Beam SB collection, Blantonīs 93 proof, Makerīs red, W. Reserve and W.T. Rare Breed.

    Stuff like Harper and Fitzgerald held an almost mythical status in my small world, which no doubt was what prompted my question in the first place.

    Aah, those were the days!
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

  3. #13
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    No mystery. Diageo still owns I.W. Harper and all Diageo bourbon is made at Four Roses. Kirin owns Four Roses, but about half of its output goes to Diageo, by contract. I don't know this for a fact, but I assume that contract was a condition of the sale.

  4. #14
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    Thanks Chuck, and Hedmans, looks like things have come full circle for you! Current (e.g. 80 proof gold label Harper) is (must) be made at Four Roses, then. I wonder if it shows to some degree anyway the fruity-like tastes of Bulleit, Four Roses and FRSB. This would not seem part of its profile based on what Hedmans said about the 12 year old Harper's. Maybe Harper's in its pre-Bernheim sale years was all made at S-W, at least since S-W was bought by the predecessors to UDV/Diageo? Maybe only some of it was. What about between '92 and the sale of Bernheim? Presumably in that time it was made at Bernheim. Before '92 it must have been made either at the predecessor to Bernheim owned by UDV in Louisville or again at S-W. I could see that a special version of Harper's might have been sourced at S-W while the regular run was rye-recipe from old and new Bernheim. Oh boy, this gets involved. Be interesting to do a vertical tasting of Harper (I am not sure I have ever had any).

    Gary

  5. #15
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    The oly IW Harper that I have seen here in Sapporo is the Gold Metal 80 proof and the 12 year old. That doesn't mean that other expressions aren't available down in Tokyo.
    Ed
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    Go Fighters!

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman
    Oh boy, this gets involved.
    Well, you can say that again!

    It would, in any sense, be fascinating to get the full story on this one.

    Mike V. shattered any hopes of an Astore/Belmont connection to Harper when he told me that these distilleries had been silent for years before the Bernheim distillery was built. After reading Murrayīs book I came away with the misguided notion that there had been a continuum between A/B and Bernheim, i.e. that they were in production all the way up until the opening of Bernheim.

    All I can say abot the Harper 12yo, is that it, in my view, lacks that certain S-W feel. Iīve had VSOF which is clearly from S-W stock and I didnīt find any obvious similarities (the lack of rye character, apart.), especially the nose was miles apart.

    But as I stated earlier, I donīt know what to think about this, anymore.
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

  7. #17
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    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Hedmans Brorsa

    I thought, hey!, this is 12 years old so the obvious thing to do was to compare with the OC Classic 90 which, by then, I was pretty familiar with. To this day, I wil stick to my guns and say that they have very similar noses but to taste is something altogether different.

    That doesn't surprise me in the least. Consider that Elmer T. Lee and Blanton's are exactly the same whiskey, just selected from different barrels, and they have markedly differing taste profiles.

    Tim
    Self-Styled Whisky Connoisseur

  8. #18
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    I too thought that UDV owned a working plant in Louisville before building Bernheim. If it did not it must have obtained its rye-recipe whiskey from elsewhere. I am sure the answer is in Chuck's book. Actually (and this happened after I revived this thread with no connection to it) I was told by a friend in Santa Fe (New Mexico) that he is bringing a bottle of I.W. Harper to me in July when he will be here for a visit. I know he is a fan of it but he does not have en especial interest in bourbon apart from that. I don't know what expression it will be but I look forward to trying it.

    Gary

  9. #19
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    I checked Chuck's book, and it states that when the current Bernheim plant was built in '92 it replaced the plant previously on the site which is the conjoined Astor/Belmont plant Hedmans is referring to. That A/B plant was the original "new Bernheim", because dedicated to the manufacture of I.W. Harper whiskey in the 1930's when the predecessors to Schenley bought the Harper label (but not the original Harper plant which was in Shively) from the Bernheim family (the principal lived until 1945). If as Mike Veach has apparently said A/B did not operate for some years before 1992, then UDV, which had bought the brand and the Schenley plants in the mid-80's, and Schenley before that, sourced the whiskey elsewhere. Schenley owned Glenmore and what is now Buffalo Trace and no doubt other distilleries so there was no lack of places to source the whiskey and some it appears was from the S-W plant (maybe just the I.W. Harper 12 year old).

    If anyone on the Board (Doug Phillips maybe, or Tim Sousley?) has a bottle of bonded I.W. Harper, it would be interesting to know the distillery of manufacture on the label.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 05-20-2006 at 06:31.

  10. #20
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    This thread is quite a puzzle. Now for my question. I have a bottle of I.W. Harper 15 year old that was originally from the bourbon heritage collection. it was made in 1995. I found it while vacationing in Florida last year. Where was this particular version made? I have a particular interest in this brand as it is also my last name!

    Thomas

 

 

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