Bourbon, Recipes, Review, Things to Do

Review: Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength and I.W. Harper

We are full swing into September aka National Bourbon Heritage Month, and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is just days away. This is the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month in honor of America's native spirit. National Bourbon Heritage Month lasts all month long and celebrates the history, cultural heritage, and legacy that the bourbon industry contributes to the United States. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held in Bardstown (and has been since 1992) from September 11-17, 2017. I received samples of Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength and I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to try out. When tasting bourbon (this is different than drinking bourbon), you want to notice four things:

We are full swing into September aka National Bourbon Heritage Month, and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is just days away. This is the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month in honor of America’s native spirit. National Bourbon Heritage Month lasts all month long and celebrates the history, cultural heritage, and legacy that the bourbon industry contributes to the United States. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held in Bardstown (and has been since 1992) from September 11-17, 2017.

I received samples of Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength and I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to try out. When tasting bourbon (this is different than drinking bourbon), you want to notice four things:

  • Appearance
  • Aroma
  • Taste
  • Finish

Don’t know what those things are? Don’t know how to do the “Kentucky Chew?” You may need to start with my post, Bourbon 101: How to Properly Taste Bourbon – The Kentucky Chew. Also, good things come to those who wait… I have an awesome cocktail for you to try in spirit of Bourbon Heritage Month using one of the bourbons that I got to sample.

We are full swing into September aka National Bourbon Heritage Month, and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is just days away. This is the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month in honor of America's native spirit. National Bourbon Heritage Month lasts all month long and celebrates the history, cultural heritage, and legacy that the bourbon industry contributes to the United States. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held in Bardstown (and has been since 1992) from September 11-17, 2017. I received samples of Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength and I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to try out. When tasting bourbon (this is different than drinking bourbon), you want to notice four things:

What It Is:

Distilled in Kentucky from the highest quality ingredients, this new variant is a barrel strength version of Bulleit Bourbon with the same high-rye mash bill. Bulleit Barrel Strength received a Gold Medal from the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and earned a score of 92 at the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge – continuing Bulleit’s history of sharing award-winning whiskeys.

Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength is a limited edition release and was released only in Kentucky in 2016. In 2017, they expanded their distribution to include Texas, California, Oregon, Ohio, New York, Illinois, Colorado and Washington DC.

 

My Thoughts:

Appearance: Medium caramel

Nose: Cinnamon, caramel, vanilla, black pepper with a hint of citrus

Taste: Fall Spice, black pepper and oak

Finish: Long and peppery

We are full swing into September aka National Bourbon Heritage Month, and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival is just days away. This is the 10th anniversary of when the U.S. Senate declared September National Bourbon Heritage Month in honor of America's native spirit. National Bourbon Heritage Month lasts all month long and celebrates the history, cultural heritage, and legacy that the bourbon industry contributes to the United States. The Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held in Bardstown (and has been since 1992) from September 11-17, 2017. I received samples of Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength and I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey to try out. When tasting bourbon (this is different than drinking bourbon), you want to notice four things:

What It Is:

I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is inspired by the original I.W. Harper variants. I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey mingles whiskey distilled at the Bernheim Distillery, historically located at 17th and Breckinridge in Louisville, Kentucky when owned and operated by United Distillers, with other fine whiskeys. It has been aged, most recently, at the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery and is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

My Thoughts:

Appearance: Light caramel

Nose: Smells of citrus fruit and like bananas foster with hints of caramel and vanilla

Taste: Citrus with hints of caramel, oak, and leather

Finish: Short and sweet

 

Now, let’s learn about some bourbon…

Production:

The barrels selected to create Bulleit Barrel Strength were emptied and combined into a single batch without the inclusion of any additional water after the whiskey was removed from the barrels. Aged and bottled at Stizel-Weller in Louisville, Kentucky, this new offering allows bartenders and fans of great whiskey the opportunity to taste Bulleit Bourbon straight out of the barrel, uncut and non-chill filtered.

Tasting Notes From Bulleit:

Bulleit Barrel Strength is medium-amber in color, with gentle spiciness and sweet oak aromas. The mid-palate is smooth with tones of maple, oak, and nutmeg. The finish is long, dry and satiny with a light toffee flavor, but with deepened oak notes.

Packaging:

Bulleit Barrel Strength is enclosed in the distinctive Bulleit frontier-inspired bottle. The bottle is clear glass with raised lettering and features a black label with orange and white accents. It’s sealed with a cork stopper.

Alcohol By Volume:

Because Bulleit Barrel Strength is being bottled straight from the barrel, uncut and unfiltered, the ABV will vary by batch, but will generally range from 120-125 in proof.

Suggested Retail Price:

$59.99 (750 mL)

Background:

In 1867, German immigrant Issac Wolfe (I.W.) Bernheim arrived in America with four dollars in his pocket and dreams of a better life. By 1872, he had founded his own distillery, Bernheim Brothers and Company, soon acquiring the trademark to produce the whiskey ultimately known as I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The whiskey won its first gold medal in 1885 and continued to gain popularity across the country and around the world throughout the twentieth century. By the 1990’s, the I.W. Harper brand shifted its focus to the Asian market and ceased distribution in the United States. Nearly 20 years later, the I.W. Harper brand is returning to the U.S. with two new Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys for legal drinking age consumers to enjoy.

Production:

The mash bill for I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is approximately 73% corn, 18% rye, and 9% barley.

Product Packaging:

The I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey packaging is inspired by the rich history of the legendary brand, featuring the iconic bowing man and diamond labels that helped make the original instantly recognizable. The bottle is a modern interpretation of a classic I.W. Harper embossed bottle.

Tasting Notes From I.W. Harper:

Beginning with a subtle nose, I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey leaves traces of caramel and vanilla on entry before melting into creamy bursts of wood and spice. The finish is sweet and pleasant with subtle fruit notes.

Alcohol By Volume:

82 Proof, 41% ABV

Suggested Retail Price:

$34.99 (750 mL)

Also, from the same company is Blade and Bow…

Brand Inspiration:

Blade and Bow is named after the two parts of a skeleton key – the blade shaft and the ornate bow handle – part of the iconic Five Keys symbol found throughout the Stitzel-Weller distillery. The keys represent the five steps of crafting bourbon – grains, yeast, fermentation, distillation and aging. These grew to symbolize the southern traditions of hospitality, warmth and enjoying the finer things in life. To this day, the five keys can be found throughout the distillery.

Packaging:

Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is packaged in a geometric bottle with six sides – one bearing the Blade and Bow logo and product information, with the other five representing each of the five keys to bourbon found throughout the Stitzel-Weller distillery. Five different keys – some rarer than others – will adorn the bottles, with consumers being encouraged to collect all five.

Tasting Notes From Blade and Bow:

Beginning with a soft nose reminiscent of fresh fruit, Blade and Bow rewards sippers with a delicious hint of dried apricot and ripe pear on entry before melting into a sweet roasted grain taste mid-palate. The finish includes notes of charred oak and warm winter spices.

Alcohol By Volume:

91 Proof, 45.5% ABV

Suggested Retail Price:

$49.99 (750 mL)

Stitzel Weller Distillery

Whether you enjoy drinking bourbon or not, why not take a trip to the Stitzel Weller Distillery located outside of Louisville, Kentucky to see a piece of history. It was founded in 1935, closed in 1972, and reopened to the public in 2014. As of 2017, it houses the welcome center and public tour for Bulleit Bourbon, which is part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Here’s a classic cocktail for you to enjoy using I.W. Harper. Now, you can toast with fellow bourbon lovers to National Bourbon Heritage Month. Cheers!

I.W. Harper Old Fashioned

  • 1.3 oz. I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Spoon of Brown Sugar
  • Dash of Angostura Orange Bitters
  • 2 Dashes Aromatic Bitters
  • House-made Cherries
  • Garnish with Orange Twist

Instructions

In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle bitters and brown sugar. Add bourbon and ice, then stir with a bar spoon. Garnish with cherries and orange twist.

 

Disclosure: This Bulleit Bourbon Barrel Strength and I.W. Harper samples were sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.

 

Enjoy! Only three days until the start of the Bourbon Festival!

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  • Christine Angel

    as a wannabee southerner, your whole blog has inspired me SO MUCH about lexington & kentucky in general!♡ sending good vibes from sunny SoCal!♡ by the way my blog is https://christineangelblog.blogspot.com/ 🙂 since all the blog platforms are different nowadays haha