Storied I.W. Harper Bourbon Said To Have Planned American Return - The Whiskey Wash

Storied I.W. Harper Bourbon Said To Have Planned American Return

By Nino Marchetti / March 9, 2015

With the ever more skyrocketing popularity of American bourbons, especially those which have some kind of historical back story, it is no wonder whiskey producers here in the USA are both digging through old stocks of brown spirits for bottling and also resurrecting old brands mostly forgotten by drinkers in an effort to be the next big run away favorite. Diageo has been making some headway at this effort on both fronts it looks like, first releasing “limited edition” bourbon after “limited edition” bourbon through its Orphan Barrel series and now, according to chatter I’ve been seeing on social media today along with some big mainstream media coverage, getting ready to bring back to the US a long storied bourbon label.

A classic I.W. Harper bourbon bottle (image via soranyan/flickr

A classic I.W. Harper bourbon bottle not likely tied to the new bottling (image via soranyan/flickr)

I.W. Harper bourbon is not a brand I’m all that familiar with, but according to online sources what would eventually be the driving force behind it came into being in 1872 via one Issac W. Bernheim. He established that year in Kentucky a liquor sales firm known as Bernhiem Brothers, which shortly thereafter began production of the bourbon. Though the course of distillery acquisitions and the like over the ensuing years the brand eventually fell into the hands of Diageo, who for the past few decades has limited sales of the American whiskey to Japan and other parts of Asia.

Rumors of the return of I.W. Harper bourbon began in earnest in January when a filing for a new labeling was approved by the TTB for future use on possible bottlings. The labels shown didn’t give much information at the time, leaving much to speculation. Today, however, the Associated Press brought forth a story with great detail about the planned release of both 4- and 15-year-old expressions, the latter of which will price around $75. Related social media talk from some well connected bourbon “insiders,” if you will, seems to back this up.

A screen grab from the I.W. Harper website.

A screen grab from the I.W. Harper website.

And, in what further looks like support of this return of I.W. Harper, I stumbled across today the website for the bourbon with the phrase “Coming Home Soon” on its front page (see screenshot above). I’ve reached out to Diageo for comment on this planned release and if I hear back I’ll provide more updates, but I would assume, especially given the AP article, that this is a planned go sometime in the near future.