If you’re a David Duchovny fan and have watched Aquarius, you’ll see him drinking a whiskey you might not have seen before, I.W. Harper. He drinks it from pint bottles, and mostly cringes when he does. Sounds delicious, right?! But why haven’t you seen it on the shelves before?

I.W. Harper was a brand started by a guy named Isaac Wolfe Bernheim (hence the IW) back in 1872. The whiskey was well-received, and grew in popularity, both here and overseas. Now here’s where the internet was helpful in providing some info that the press release didn’t. As the whiskey gained in popularity, especially in Japan, Americans discovered they could buy it here and sell it there for a pretty nice profit in Japan. That didn’t sit well with the folks in control, so they pulled IW Harper off the American market in the mid-1990s (officially, “shifted its focus to the Asian market and ceased distribution in the United States”). Now it’s back (you can’t have Hank Moody drinking stuff we can’t get, right?), and here’s what I think of the sample they provided me, this time in a small briefcase, with a glass!. Let’s put their motto to the test: The Bowing Man stands to remind us— anywhere, anytime, it’s always a pleasure™. Sláinte!


Straight bourbon:

I.W. Harper

I.W. Harper


Color: medium golden brown

Nose: a mild sugary-sweetness, with an even milder burn toward the end

Taste: A lighter-bodied whiskey, that’s a little sweet and has a quick finish. The sweetness leans more toward honey than plain sugar, that gives it a nice mouth feel.


Overall: This is a decent whiskey, and the price is reasonable. It’s a little light and might not hold up in a cocktail (maybe a Manhattan, but not an Old Fashioned – it’s already sweet), but with an ice cube it would be great on a hot summer evening.


Price: $34.99

ABV: 42% (84 proof)

Availability: Nationwide

8 pancakes out of 10 – yummy!


15 year expression:

15 year

15 year


Color: medium golden brown, about the same shade as the Straight Bourbon

Nose: slightly sweet, but with more oak and a slight hint of maple syrup

Taste: With a few more years in a barrel, it gives this whiskey a bit more bite. The wood comes through, and evens out some of the sugary-sweetness of the base expression. The finish is also pretty quick, though with the bite this expression has initially, I’m not sure I’d want that to linger.


Overall: This is also a decent whiskey, but to me the price is a bit high for what you get. It would do better in a cocktail, but most people don’t want to buy a $75 bottle to mix.


Price: $74.99

ABV: 43% (86 proof)

Availability: Nationwide, but limited release

7 pancakes out of 10 – decent, but there are some better values on the shelf


Article: Jeanne Runkle




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