Review: I.W. Harper Bourbon Cabernet Cask Reserve

Review: I.W. Harper Bourbon Cabernet Cask Reserve

I.W. Harper’s lineup includes two (wildly) different, sourced expressions, and now they’re joined by a third, which is again a departure for the brand. This is a 4 year old Kentucky bourbon that is finished in casks that held cabernet sauvignon wine from California. Other than that (and the fact that it’s bottled at Stitzel-Weller), details are scarce.

Let’s try it all the same.

The bourbon is pretty on the nose, though a bit punchy with alcohol at first. Notes of sesame and heavy florals, almost perfumed at times, dominate. Toasty oak kicks things off on the palate, which offers notes of creamy nougat, some peanut shell, lots of burnt caramel, and ample vanilla — all the trappings of a classic bourbon. What I didn’t initially get in this whiskey is any real sense of the cabernet sauvignon cask — until well into the finish, where a bright note of red fruits, perhaps currants, abruptly comes into focus. That kind of fruity sweetness, touched with black pepper here, wouldn’t be out of place in some standard bourbons (think Baker’s), but here it does feel amped up, at least a bit. Bright and clean and wholly exuberant, the berry notes are just a layer of spice atop an otherwise solid whiskey that feels far more versatile and immediately approachable than one would expect.

90 proof.


I.W. Harper Bourbon Cabernet Cask Reserve




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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