“Since 1872,” or so the label reads. I.W. Harper has a storied past, but the bourbon brand now rests in the hands of spirits giant, Diageo. The 15-year expression was once found with little trouble. Nowadays, not so much, but a chance discovery at $99 tickled my curiosity.
Pour: I.W. Harper 15 (KSBW)
Age: 15 years
Color: rich amber
Nose: honey, fragrant oak, nutty toffee
Taste: antique oak, salted caramel, leather
Finish: moderate length w/ savory vanilla, sweet oak, dry spice
Overall: No complaints here. I.W. Harper 15, while not particularly unique or complex, excels in the “notably mature whiskey done right” category. And surprisingly, the lower proof doesn’t bother me at all. If you like sweet oak, this bourbon is for you.
Rating: Worth it.
The best thing about Knob Creek limited edition releases is they’re relatively easy to find. 2020’s Knob Creek 15 was no exception. For $100 one could – and still can – purchase a 100-proof, 15-year Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey (sans sourced whiskey mystery bullshit).
Pour: Knob Creek 15 Year
Age: 15 years
Color: dense copper
Nose: woody cherry, fragrant oak, Coca-Cola Classic
Taste: earthy vanilla, chewing tobacco, sweet sassafras
Finish: moderately long – singed plum, clove gum, leather
Overall: I can’t help but compare Knob Creek 15 to the slightly younger but cheaper Knob Creek 12. While I generally prefer the 12-year’s profile, I remain impressed with the 15-year’s surprising elegance. This is well-aged bourbon done right.
Rating: Mature, meticulous.