I.W. Harper 15 year old is a fairly relaxed bourbon with high sweetness and relatively gentle flavours – as such, it’s quite easy drinking. It shows a good translation from the nose to the mouth, but not necessarily one where you’d guess the slightly higher age statement. It does however have excellent balance of flavour and some impressive qualities at only 43% ABV.
Sweet and softly spiced. Stewed fruits (dark ones – blackcurrants, blackberries and cherries) merge with confectionery shop sweetness, brown sugars, and healthy dusting of cinnamon. There’s some underlying umami flavour here – sweetcorn and something slightly lactic – not creamy, sharp. There are hints of varnish out of the bottle which fade after a short rest in the glass.
Sweet again, but now with more prominent spicing coming through. Caramel and toffee covered apples are joined by some juicy dark berries and some big vanilla influence – part pod, part extract. Earthiness takes over from umami now and reminds me of barrel filled warehouses full of planking and very sappy wood and wood resins. Spicing is high with cinnamon, but still on the sweet side (a factor of the lower rye content I’d posit). In the background some natural herbal/vegetal notes of reeds, flax and dried grass.
Quite long, quite oaky and with some astringency starting to appear. Vanilla and cinnamon on show.