I.W Harper 1917 Bottled in Bond 16 Year Old Pint / Prohibition Era Bottling
Distilled in 1917, this whiskey was protected in bond from the Prohibition Act of 1920, which made alcohol production and consumption illegal. This was bottled in 1933, just before the repeal of the act.
The I.W. prefix in this whiskey's name derives from Isaac Wolfe Bernheim, who founded the brand. With his brother he helped establish Louisville in Kentucky as a centre for Bourbon production. Sadly, he felt Harper was a more marketable name than his own to apply to the bottles.
This was distilled at Bernheim distillery, which the Bernheim brothers had sold to United American Co. a few years earlier, anticipating the coming Prohibition legislation. After the passing of the act, this whiskey was procured by Otto Wathen's American Medicinal Spirits Company, who stored it at bonded warehouse 368 in the 5th distict of Kentucky, formerly the R.P. Pepper distillery, and eventually bottled at 16 years old.
The I.W. Harper brand and the Bernheim distillery were purchased by Schenley in 1934, who produced it until 1987 when they were acquired by United Distillers (now Diageo). The Schenley product was labelled 'Gold Medal,' a reference to the many the brand received, including at the 1915 San Francisco Fair, two years before this was produced.
United Distillers discontinued the I.W. Harper brand in the US in the 1980s, however Diageo revived the brand in 2015. It is no longer made at Bernheim though, which was sold to Heaven Hill in 1999.