Found a bunch of old bourbon

Have an old/rare bottle you'd like some more info on?

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Found a bunch of old bourbon

Unread postby spackler » Wed Aug 16, 2006 10:56 am

Moved into Grandpa's house ... completely furnished. Liquor closet was full, dusty, and old. Among a lot of other liquors, I found old bourbon's.

Just a couple I have questions about. They are 1950's vintage unopened with tax stamp still there. Decanter style.

The first is an IW Harper. The date on the tax stamp says 1954 and 1959. The second is an Old Forester 86 Proof. I'm thinking this one is a mid 50's. There is no date on the tax stamp. I've searched the internet for the bottle, but couldn't find one like it. I'd like to know more about both.

Just wondering if I should find a better home for these if there is value or drink away. Don't want to commit a bourbon sin. I'd like to invite some of my bourbon drinking friends over to sample. I'd also like to know if anyone has tried these and can give a review. Should I expect crap or pure rapture?

Thanks!
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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:04 am

These are some fine old bourbons and if you enjoy bourbon, by all means open them and drink them. Do not worry about doing something that you will regret financially because there really is not a market for old bourbon. It is illegal to sell without a license, but they do it anyway on ebay, stating they are selling it for the bottle value, not the whiskey. A farce the government has ignored so far, but I don't think anybody has really sold in volume either ( by volume I mean in the hundereds of cases). I would suspect you would get maybe between one and two hundred dollars by selling a bottle and that is not even the cost of a Pappy 23yo today.

We are going to be tasting Old Forester from the 1950's next week at a fund raising event at the Filson. I have had Old Forester from the 50's before but don't recall all of the details other than it was excellent bourbon. I will let you know more after next week's tasting.
Mike Veach
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Unread postby spackler » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:08 am

Thanks Mike. Can't wait to hear back from you on the OF. I'll snap a photo of the bourbon's I have so you can see the OF bottle.

Any idea's on the IW Harper?
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Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:09 pm

I have had old bottles of I W Harper and rather enjoyed some of them, but was a bit dissapointed in others. Most of the ones that dissapointed me were from the 60's when Schenley took the brand worldwide. That meant they put their best whiskey into the export bottles and used some less than stellar bourbon for the domestice bourbon.

One of the best bourbons I ever drank was some I W Harper distilled in 1936 and bottled in bond in 1941. Very full of citrus fruit flavor and spice, with just the right amount of caramel/vanilla and wood.
Mike Veach
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Unread postby cowdery » Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:53 pm

I agree with Mike. Your best bet is to enjoy them, and treasure them as reminders of your grandfather.

Whiskey stored in decanters can be a little dicey, but in this situation they probably haven't moved since they were brought home from the store, so are probably okay. You might want to decant them into a glass bottles with threaded screw caps unless you plan to drink all the whiskey right away. The dried out cork on the decanter stopper will deteriorate quickly after a couple of uses.

You might also want to get a modern bottle of OF for comparison. Unfortunately, unless you are in Japan, acquiring I. W. Harper will be difficult. At any event, even if you could it would have been made at a different distillery. Closest match in terms of something you can buy today might be Old Charter.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:18 pm

Chuck,
When he said it was mostly from the 1950's I assumed he was not talking about porclein decanter figurines, but the glass decanter with designs in gold leaf - more along the lines of the Cabin Still stag decanter. You are of course right if you are talking porclein, but if they are glass decnters, he should be able to see the whiskey and if it is not cloudy, it will be drinkable. If he does not break the cork, they will seal just fine.

Schenley did a lot of glass decanter holiday bottles starting in the early 50's. There were decanters for Harper, Charter, Dant, Pepper and Schenley Reserve. Brown-Forman did a few decanters for Old Forester, and Heaven Hill and Barton did the same for Old Heaven Hill and Very Old Barton respectivly.
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Unread postby cowdery » Sun Aug 20, 2006 1:47 am

The Old Fitz decanters I have from the 70s are glass, and the whiskey is clear, but after opening the cork started to deteriorate fast. I didn't get a lot of cork in the whiskey and the bottle didn't last long, but if I had consumed half of it, say, and not the rest I think I would have either wanted to decant it or find a different stopper.
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Unread postby spackler » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:26 pm

It's not in porcelain containers, it is glass and the liquids are all clear brown.

Thanks.
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Unread postby bourbonv » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:52 pm

Chuck,
Either you have been unlucky or I have been fortunate. I have never had any more trouble from the corks of these decanters than I have had with any other old bourbon. I have never had to decant to because of a bad cork.

If the whiskey is still a nice amber color with no cloudiness, drink it and enjoy. Maybe you will place a review or two of some of your favorite bottles.
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