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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

I.W. Harper VS. I.W. Harper 15-Year

In a pre-COVID world, I enjoyed touring distilleries, treasuring their histories and storied brands. One such tour was to the Bulleit Experience at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Here, several Diageo brands are highlighted, including flagship Bulleit, Blade and Bow, and I.W. Harper.

The Bernheim Brothers

During the late 1800s, German immigrants Isaac Wolfe Bernheim and his brother, Bernard, founded I.W. Harper Bourbon. It quickly received accolades, including the coveted Gold Medal at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The brand flourished through Prohibition and was sold to the Schenley conglomerate in 1937. The I.W. Harper brand was even spotlighted in the 1969 James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” staring George Lazenby.

By 1972, with domestic bourbon sales plummeting, the brand was relegated to the bottom shelf, eventually pulled from the US and sold exclusively abroad. The I.W. Harper brand was subsequently sold to Guiness in 1987, which merged with the Diageo spirits company. The brand was reintroduced to the U.S. market in 2016. While Diageo recently began distilling its own Bulleit brands at a new facility in Shelbyville, Kentucky, these I.W. Harper products were likely produced by Heaven Hill.

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