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Review of the new release of I.W. Harper

Posted on by Eric Burke

I just wish there were more. Sweet, spicy, rich and floral sum this up nicely. The color is even beautiful. It is a joy to look at, smell and taste. Just yum.

That's what I said about a small mini of I.W. Harper from the early 70s. It was delicious. It was also a one of a kind deal. So it was with great interest that I read that I.W. Harper was being brought back to the US. I didn't imagine that a new version would taste nearly as good as the one from 40 years ago, but I wondered if there might be some sort of family resemblance. 

Yes. I got over that pretty quick when I remembered who owned the brand now. I'm not one of those folks who think that Diageo (the current brand owner) is specifically out to stomp on the notion of fair priced whiskey that tastes good. But they have gone on record as saying they think there is extra profit to be taken in American Whiskey. And have put out some bourbon with pretty steep prices. Plus they don't actually have a distillery making bourbon right now. So whatever they put out was probably bought from someone else.

All this is to say that even before I picked it up, I knew this wouldn't be anything like what I had had before. But that tiny voice saying "what if..." got the better of me. And so I bought it. 

I.W. Harper

Purchase Info: $29.99, 750 mL. Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN

Details: 41% ABV. 

Nose: Old wood, sweet banana, apple slices, floral perfume

Mouth: Thin and flat. Brown sugar and wood tannins.

Finish: A bit of the floral notes from the nose show up before being steamrolled by bitter oak tannins. 

Meh. Expressionless face.

Thoughts: Very disappointing. The nose was light, fruity and delicate. The mouth was flat and full of wood. When I first nosed it I thought I was getting one whiskey. I ended up getting another that I didn't like as much. As far as quality, this is a solid meh. It's not terrible, but for almost $30 you expect something more than a mixer. I'd give this one a pass.


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