i.w. harper bourbon whiskey

I.W. Harper Bourbon is Back in the US

Isaac Wolfe Bernheim

I.W. HARPER bourbon takes root as Isaac Wolfe and Bernard Bernheim along with silent partner Eldrige Palmer start Bernheim Bros. distillery in Paducah, Kentucky with $3200. Just a few years later the Bernheim brothers acquire the I.W. HARPER trademark

Isaac Wolfe Bernheim was born in Germany in 1848, and by 1867 had arrived in New York with only $4 in his pocket but rich in ambition. He peddled goods on horseback until the fateful passing of his horse, which led him to a job as a bookkeeper at a wholesale liquor business. Denied a promised partnership after years of work at the firm, I.W. Bernheim and his brother Bernard set off on their own, and a legend began.

i.w. harper
Gold Medal at the Chicago World’s Fair

I.W. HARPER was duly recognized with numerous gold medals throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s—most famously taking the Gold Medal at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.



i w harper transportation car

The Bernheim Brothers thrived during Prohibition as one of only ten distilleries allowed to legally produce for medicinal purposes. Though I.W. HARPER bourbon was not one of these medicinal whiskies, the brand still endured. The I.W. HARPER 1928 Ford Model A, located at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, Kentucky, gives a nod to the brand’s premium quality withstanding the test of time.

iw harper


I.W. HARPER bourbon advertising becomes a testament to its refined reputation, while I.W. Bernheim continues even in his final years to pursue innovation—fine-tuning I.W. HARPER’s boiler to reduce the density of the smoke from its power plant by 65%, which improves the rich flavor of the whiskey.


I.W. Bernheim passes away in 1945 and is buried in his other passion project, the Bernheim Forest, located in Clermont, Kentucky.


In 1955, the iconic I.W. HARPER bourbon ceramic decanter is debuted. The “Traveler” carrying case is also released, I.W. HARPER becomes the favorite bourbon served on all ocean liners, and the world’s love affair with I.W. HARPER grows.




I.W. HARPER bourbon was welcomed with pleasure wherever it went. By 1966 the brand becomes an international sensation, traveling the world to become a bourbon enjoyed in 110 countries.

Even furthering its role in the spotlight, in 1963 I.W. HARPER bourbon is featured in Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond novel, and later the movie of the same title, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” in which Bond—James Bond drinks I.W. HARPER bourbon over ice.

iwharper international

In 1972, I.W. HARPER bourbon celebrates a major milestone with its 100th Birthday, and it continues to be enjoyed internationally throughout the decade.



In the 1980s Back at home the bourbon market is declining, but luckily for I.W. HARPER it’s quickly expanding across the globe, especially in Japan. In response to bourbon's surging popularity in this market, United Distillers decides to slowly cease its I.W. HARPER distribution in the U.S. and shift focus overseas. And thus, I.W. HARPER bourbon bids America farewell and embarks on its next chapter.



Its Back in the US Spring 2015

mr harper is back

A good story gets better with each telling, and the legend of I.W. HARPER is no exception. Finally, after nearly 20 years, the I.W. HARPER brand is returning home with two new, exceptional I.W. HARPER bourbons.

Grab a glass and some rocks. This one’s going to be good.

It's stocked and ready on our shelves.Visit Hot Spot Liquor today and grab a legendary bourbon for a very impressive taste.