I thought I would post this history timeline since we have a few I W Harper fans here.
Bernheim Distillery History
1848 - I W Bernheim is born in Schieheim, Germany. (Kentucky
1850/1 - Bernard Bernheim is born (Closing Chapters of a Busy
1867 - I. W. Bernheim comes to America (Bonfort's Wine and
Spirits Circular, May 25, 1894, p.77).
1872 - Isaac Wolfe and Bernard Bernheim with silent partner
Elbridge Palmer start Bernheim Bros. in Paducah, Ky.
with $3,200 ($1,200 the Brother's life savings). (UD
Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).
1879 - Bernheim Bros. acquire the I W Harper trademark. (N
Morgan to T Manners 4/2/92).
o - Bernheim Bros and Company purchase the "rights to the
use in the manufacture and sale of distilled spirits a
certain trademark for whiskey consisting of a double
quarter foil and arbitrary title I. W. Harper" from
Abraham Hoffheimer of Cincinnati. Ohio (U D Archive,
1881 - Belmont Distillery is first listed in the Louisville
City Directory. The site of this distillery is the
present Bernheim distillery location (U of L Archives).
1882 - Bernheim is living in a house on the Corner of Second
Street and Ormsby. (UD Archives, 991.m.147)
o - I. W. Bernheim gives coal and bread to the poor people
of Paducah who were suffering during a winter flood
(Closing Chapters of a Busy Life, p.74).
1885 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the New Orleans
Exposition. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).
1888 - Bernheim Bros. leave Paducah to move headquarters to
Louisville, Ky. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).
1889 - Bernheim Bros. is first listed in the Louisville City
Directory (U of L Archives).
1890 - Bernheim Bros. acquire interest in Pleasure Ridge
Distillery (N Morgan to T Manners 4/2/92).
o - Bernheim suscribe to the Illustrated Louisville of 1890
and have the discription of their business placed in
the book. It states that they are located at Nos. 135
& 137 Main Street in a 5 story brick building that is
30 feet front by 225 feet deep. Product is kept on all
floors which are conected by elevator.
1891 - The Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery advertises Kentucky
Comfort Whiskey in The Wine and Beverage Bulletin (Jan.
o - The Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery erects 2 new
ironclad warehouses to replace one destroyed earlier in
the year (Wine and Spirits Bulletin, May 1891).
o - Bernheim Bros. and Uri announces that Nathen M Uri is
leaving the company as of June 1, 1891 (Wine and
Spirits Bulletin, June 1891).(N.M. Uri's photograph is
on page 52 of the July 18, 1892 Wine and Spirits
1892 - Bonfort's Wine and Spirit Circular has a picture of the
"small tub mash floor" at Belmont Distillery (July 10,
1893 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the Chicago Worlds
Fair. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).
o - Bernheim Bros. build a log cabin at the fair as a
display and a way to entertain friends at the fair
(Bonfort's Wine and Spirits Circular (with picture),
May 10, 1893).
1894 - Bernheim registers the "T. B. Ripy" trademark
(Bonfort's Wine and Spirit Circular, Aug. 10, 1894,
1895 - Bernheim Bros. have trade "from Maine to Texas and New
York to California" according to Bernheim in his family
history (I W Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.58).
1896 - A fire burns the warehouse in Pleasure Ridge with
Bernheim Bros. whiskey in it. The brothers face
financial disaster as the government wants $1,000,000
in taxes for the whiskey. Takes 18 months of litigation
to free the brothers from the debt. (UD Archives,
o - The partner with Bernheim Bros in the P R P Warehouse
was Nathan Block of Block, Frank and Co. who made
Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks bourbons (I W
Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.58).
o - Bonfort's Wine and Spirit Circular has article
describing the Belmont small tub sour mash process and
the location of their wells (Oct.10, 1896, p. 360).
1897 - Bernheim Bros. builds a distillery at 7th St. and
Bernheim Lane - the first distillery actually owned by
the brothers. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).
o - The distillery produces its first mash in April, 1897
(I W Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.60).
1899 - Bernheim Bros. buy a larger store and sell their store
on Main between 1rst and 2nd to W L Weller and Sons.
(Bernheim Family History, I W Bernheim, U Of L
Archives). The Louisville City Directory list the new
location as being at 626-628 West Main Street (U of L
o - Bernheim's cousin, Barney Dreyfuss quits Bernheim Bros.
and moves to Pittsburg and purchases a baseball team
(Pirates?) (I W Bernheim, The Bernheim Family, p.65).
1900 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the Exposition
Univeral, in Paris, France. (UD Archives, 991.m.190
o - Walthen R Knebelkamp is born in Athertonville Ky. (UD
o - Bernheim Bros. have moved into their new building with
the back of the building being mostly made of glass and
iron to allow maximum lighting for office space (Wine
and Spirit Bulletin, Jan. 1, 1900, page 8).
o - Bernheim builds a new heated brick warehouse at the
distillery at a cost of $10,000. I W Bernheim is quoted
as saying that he will make 2,350 barrels of F F V Rye
this year, but will make 4,000 barrels the next.
"Mammaoth brick warehouse" that will be "modern and
complete in every detail" (Wine and Spirit Bulletin,
June 1, 1900, page 8).
o - I W Harper advertisement on page 29 of the Wine and
Spirit Bulletin (June 1, 1900).
o - Bernheim runs a special train to their distillery
members of the trade attending a confederate reunion in
Louisville (Wine and Spirit Bulletin, July 1, 1900,
o - Photographs of the Bernheim Distillery are spread
throughout the Aug. 1, 1900 issue of Wine and Spirit
o - Wine and Spirit Bulletin notes that Bernheim Bros.
makes I W Harper "their leading blended whiskey (Aug. 1, 1900, pages 10-11).
o - Wine and Spirits Bulletin article states that Bernheim
Bros. "Stands to-day in the very front rank, not only
of the commercial institutions of Louisville but of the
whiskey houses of the World." The writer did not think
that "there is any doboubt that in a few years if
indeed not already, the brand `I.W. Harper'... will be
known in every part of the world." (August 1901, pp.
1901 - Bernheim donates a statue of Thomas Jefferson to the
city of Louisville. The statue was sculpted by Sir
Moses Ezekiel (Wine and Spirit Bulletin, Nov.1, 1901,
o - Article in the Wine and Spirits Bulletin gives complete
agenda for dedication ceremonies of Jefferson Statue
(Dec. 1, 1901, p.20).
1903 - Bernheim Bros. form Bernheim Distilling Co. with
$2,000,000 paid up capital. (UD Archives, 991.m.190
1904 - I W Harper wins the gold medal at the Louisiana
Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. (UD Archives,
o - Bernheim exhibit at the Exposition is at the main
entrance of the Corn Palace (Wine and Spirit Bulletin,
May 1, 1904, page 33).
o - Bernheim builds a new 15,000 barrel warehouse at a cost
of $30,000.00 and a new "Bottling in Bond" plant at a
cost of $10,000.00 (Wine and Spirits Bulletin, May 1,
1904, page 45).
o - Lee S Bernheim retires as Treasurer of Bernheim
Distilling Company in order to pursue "sociological
study and work" (Wine and Spirits Bulletin, Oct. 1,
1904, page 19).
1905 - Photograph of and article about the Bernheim exhibit at
the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St Louis (Wine and
Spirit Bulletin, Jan. 12, 1905, page 26).
1906 - Bernheim Distilling Co. buys Warwick Distillery at
Silver Creek, Madison County and interest in a rye
distillery in Maryland. (Bernheim Family History, I W
Bernheim, U Of L Archives).
o - Leo Gerngross comes to the U.S. from Nuremburg, Germany
(Schenley News, July-August 1958).
1907 - I.W. Harper wins a gold medal at the Greater Louisville
Exposition (U D Archives, Uncataloged photograph).
1911 - The Bernheim Distillery and the Warwick Distillery are
finishing their improvement projects (Wine and Spirits
Bulletin, Nov. 1, 1911, page 22).
o - The Mida's Financial Index, 1911, list Bernheim
Distilling Company as having a capital value of over
$1,000,000 and distilleries Dy. No. 9, 5th Dist and Dy.
No. 1, 8th Dist. (Louisville and Silver Creek, Madison
1912 - Bernheim runs a series of advertisements on page 58 of
the Wine and Spirit Bulletin for I W Harper. The ads
change about every month.
o - The Pleasure Ridge Park Distillery has an advertisement
for Henry Watterson Bourbon on page 25 and an article
about "Marse" Henry on page 43 Of the July 1 issue of
the Wine and Spirit Bulletin.
1913 - Bernheim Distilling advertises in the Southern
Prosperity Edition of the Courier-Journal.
1915 - I W Bernheim retires (N Morgan 18/11/91).
o - I. W. Harper wins a blue ribbon at the Panama Pacific
International Exposition in San Fransico (U D Archives,
o - Leo Gerngoross and Emil Schwarzhaupt found the whiskey
brokerage of Schwarzhaupt & Co. (Schenley News, July
1918 - Bernhiem Bros. Distillery at Bernheim Lane and the RR
tracks is sold to A B Flarsheim for $39,000. United
American Company had owned it since 1911, (Courier
-Journal article Nov. 8, 1918, section 1, page 12,
1920 - Bernheim moves its office to 105 West Main (Louisville
City Directory, U of L Archives).
o - Prohibition forces Max Selliger and his Belmont and
Astor distilleries to close (Louisville City Directory,
U of L Archives).
1925 - Bernheim moves its office to 2718 West Broadway
(Louisville City Directory, U of L Archives).
o - Bernard Bernheim dies on July 27, 1925 (Closing
Chapters of a Busy Life, p.55).\
1929 - I. W. Bernheim donates statues of Henry Clay and Dr.
Ephraim McDowell to Kentucky to place in the Statuary
Hall of the Nation's Capital (Closing Chapters of a
Busy Life, pp.59-60).
o - I. W. Bernheim purchases 13,000 acres of "Kentucky
Knob" land for the creation of Bernheim Forest. The
land was to be funded by the Issac W. Bernheim
Foundation (Closing Chapters of a Busy Life, p. 78).
1932 - Bernheim moves its offices to 1386 Lexington Rd.
(Louisville City Directory, U of L Archives).
1933 - Leo Gerngross and Emil Schwarzhaupt - whiskey brokers
from Chicago, buy the Bernheim plant. They already
owned the Max Selliger plant (Astor and Belmont
distillery units) at 17th St. and Breckinridge in
Louisville. (UD Archives, 991.m.190 a+b).
o - NOTE: Gerngross and Schwarzhaupt were part of founding
the American Medicinal Spirits Company (Fortune, Nov.,
1934 - Bernheim moves its offices to 1701 West Breckinridge.
Also listed at this location are the Belmont and Astor
distilleries. Astor is a rye whiskey. (Louisville City
Directory, Uniiversity of Louisville).
1937 - Gerngross and Schwarzhaupt sell to Schenley
Distileries, Inc. Other brands include Old Charter,
Cascade, and Echo Springs. (UD Archives, 991.m.190
o - Bernheim and Belmont Distilleries sold for $22 million
dollars and involved 142,650 barrels of whiskey (New
York Times, 2/19/37).
1938 - A new bottling house is built at the Bernheim
o - Belmont Bourbon is released on May 1, 1938. Since
Belmont was a bonded whiskey before prohibition, it was
not re-released until a four year bonding period had
passed (Remarks of Merit, April, 1938, p. 8).
1944 - Leo Gerngross retires as a Vice President of Schenley
(Schenley News, July-August, 1958).
o - Bernheim writes a letter explaining that the name
Harper comes from a man name Harper who had a horse in
the Kentucky Derby (U D Archive, Bernheim History
1945 - I W Bernheim dies while spending the winter in
California. (Kentucky Encyclopedia, p.72).(Bernheim is
buried at Bernheim Forest).
1946 - Bernheim makes improvements on its boiler that reduces
the density of the smoke from its power plant by 65%
(Beverage News Observer, 6/10/46).
1948 - Walthen R Knebelkamp becomes president of Bernheim and
regional manager for Schenley. (UD Archives,
1950 - Emil Schwarzhaupt dies (Schenley News, July-August
1951 - Cascade Bourbon being barreled at Bernheim. (UD
1954 - I W Harper 86 proof is introduced by Schenley (U D
Archive, Uncataloged Press Release).
1955 - The I W Harper "ceramic man" decanter is released. (UD
o - An article in the Schenley magazine states that I W
Harper is the best selling bourbon on all ocean liners
(Schenley Magazine, Winter 1955, p.3).
1956 - Bernheim distillery wins first place in Louisville and
Jefferson County Beautification League contest. Brown
and Williamson Tobacco Corperation placed second and
Brown-Forman Distillery won third place. (UD Archives,
1958 - Leo Gerngross dies (Schenley News, July-August, 1958).
1959 - Walthen R Knebelkamp elected president of Churchill
Downs, retires from Bernhiem and replaced by Gregory W
Schweri. (UD Archives, 991.m.147).
o - Khrushchev suprises V.P. Richard Nixon with a visit to
Air Force Two in Moscow. He drinks I W Harper Bourbon
with the Vice President. (UD Archives, 991.m.147).
1966 - I W Harper "110 Countries" advertisement showing point
of sales material appears Beverage Media (July 1966,
1969 - I. W. Harper 12 year old is introduced (U D Archive,
Uncataloged Public Relations file).
1970 - Bernhard, The Prince of the Netherlands, sends a "Thank
You " note to Schenley because W.C. Beerman has been
sending him a bottle of bourbon (I.W. Harper) for his
birthday and Christmas for many years and he enjoys the
product (What's New at Schenley, Nov. 1970, p.5).
1972 - I W Harper 10-Year Old Bourbon is bottled to celebrate
the 100th birthday of the brand (What's New At
Schenley, March 1972).
1974 - I W Harper 101 is introduced. It is the first time
Schenley offered a bourbon with a proof over 100
(What's New At Schenley, Nov. 1974).
1983 - I W Harper ranked top in a Dallas, Texas bourbon
tasting held by one of the competing bourbon's taster.
The panel consisted of Becky Murphy - Dallas Morning
News; Claude Boucher - Lone Star Company; Mark
Dickerson of Red Coleman's; Joel Freeman - Wine writer,
and Gerald Kotecki of Penland Distributors, Inc. (U D
Archive, Uncataloged Press Release).
1987 - United Distillers acquires Schenley (C Morris,
1992 - The new Bernheim Distillery is opened. This distillery
is making all of the whiskey produced by UDPI with
three seperate formulas. The Stitzel-Weller formula is
roughly 75% corn / 20% wheat / 5% barley malt and
barreled at 114 proof. The Bernheim formula is roughly
86% corn / 6% rye / 8% barley malt and barreled at 125
proof. The Glenmore formula is 80% corn / 20% rye and
barley malt and barreled at 125 proof. (C Morris,
1994 - I W Harper Gold Medal 15 Year Old is introduced as part
of the Heritage Collection (M Veach, 3/25/96).
1996 - I W Harper 15 Year Old Gold Medal wins a gold Medal at
the International Wine and Spirits Competition in
London (M. Veach, July 15, 1996).