Ahh, the futility of arguing flavor. Of films, Gene Siskel (I think) once said (paraphrased), you can't argue someone into believing a film is a) erotic or b) humorous. Either it is or it isn't.
You can't argue someone into thinking they're drinking good bourbon, either. Consequently, don't misunderstand this as an attempt to do that. Just a different impression of the same product.
IWH 15 yo is the best 80 proof bourbon that I have ever had. Yes, it's overpriced. It's very overpriced. IWH 15 and Hancock's Reserve belong on a shelf together marked "Ambivalence." They are not worth the price, and they are watered down, but, damn it, they are GOOD.
I may be mistaken, but I thought that you characterized the mouth of IWH as "oily" on your website. I perceive it is buttery - for me, oily in a positive way. Forgive me if I have that wrong about your other review.
The vanilla and caramel are the signature flavors of IWH 15, but what you perceive as bitter, I think I would characterize as an undercurrent of wood/oak that is distinctive without being overpowering. Very few bourbons survive this much bottling water and remain distinctive, IMHO. I would actually love to taste this at higher proof, but I kind of wonder if I wouldn't wind up watering it down to bring out the vanilla over the oak anyway.
I've never had the 130 month, but I have had the 12 year. Perhaps our common ground is that we both think 15 year aging may have been excessive. I think the 12 year is fabulous. Unfortunately, that's even harder to find in my experience.
Which makes me wonder...if I remember correctly, according to Chuck, OC and IWH are very much the same whiskey mashbill-wise. (Chuck - do I have that right?) I love OC 12 (thanks, Mike for bringing up fond Classic memories with your review)! OC PR is just not quite as good to me - unblinded, anyway. Maybe we both agree that this whiskey peaks in the ballpark of 12 years?
In the end, if I found another bottle of IWH 15 year, I would mutter, curse, pace...and then plop down $40 because it would sucker me in again.
$50? I don't know...
Dave & Tina