I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Nose: The scent is about medium and has a sweet note to it. There’s some vanilla and caramel and some candy corn. Later sniffs brought out a small amount of spiciness and some alcohol. Palate: This starts out on the first sip with a classic bourbon flavor that has a small kick of heat towards the end and it mostly hits you in the very back of the throat. It isn’t harsh or burning, but is rather a pleasant warming. It has a nice medium mouthfeel. The second sip brings out some rye spiciness that is barely there and combines that with some woodiness and some earthy flavors and a decent amount of vanilla. It is pretty smooth and not very complex. It doesn’t taste as sweet as you would expect from the nose. It has more of a chewy character to it. I’d have to do a side-by-side to confirm it, but I think this reminds me a bit of the regular Old Forester. This isn’t as sweet as I’d like it to be nor as rye flavored as I’d like, if I was in the mood for something with a bit more rye taste to it. That said, it is perfectly serviceable. I doubt it will be anyone’s most favorite, but I also don’t think most people would turn down a second glass. The last sip was pretty much the same, but with a little bit of butterscotch showing up. Comments: I discovered I.W. Harper one day when a local liquor store had an end display of several cases of it stacked up. The price was knocked down to $18, so I got a bottle. After tasting it, I went back and bought a bunch more AND let everyone in the area know about it. Because…..at $18, it is absolutely worth it. It isn’t the best neat sipper, but it is easy to drink and worth doing so at that price. I can’t remember making a cocktail with this, but I suspect it would be a worthwhile candidate. Now…..the bad news. That end display must have been some sort of promotional deal or something. The price remained at $18 until the stack was gone, but you can’t buy it for that now. It is up around the low $30 range now. At that price, I find it hard to recommend because of the many other good choices in that range. I previously reviewed the 15 year old version of this and, upon re-reading that review, I think I have to agree that the price you pay for the 15 year is probably not worth it. THIS version is 82 proof and the mashbill is reported to be 73% corn, 18% rye and 9% malted barley. The “name” has been around since the 1800’s and is now owned by Diageo. The 15 year old version reportedly comes from the Bernheim Distillery, but it isn’t known if this one does too.