Old Overholt is a brand of rye whiskey owned by Beam Global Spirits and made at their distillery in Clermont, Kentucky. While Old Overholt is typically a commonly available, inexpensive rye whiskey, the history of the brand dates back to 1870, and the distillery company to 1810.
The Overholt family had moved from the eastern part of Pennsylvania to the western, and settled in West Overton. In 1810, Abraham Overholt and his brother Christian decided to take their modest home distillery that could produce 6-8 gallons of spirit per day and expand it to nearly 200 gallons per day. They named their brand "Old Farm", and like most whiskies in Pennsylvania at that time, it was rye based. In 1834, Abraham had built a mill to grind grain on the property, and was offering to grind grain for the local farmers.
By the mid-1800's, Abraham had bought his brother out and went into business with two of his sons. In 1854, Jacob Overholt (Abraham's son) partnered with his cousin Henry O. Overholt in a new distillery in the town of Broad Ford. In 1859, the West Overton site was inadequate for their needs, so they tore down the old West Overton distillery and mill, and built a new one. In the same year, Jacob died, and his father bought out his interest in the Broad Ford distillery, thus uniting them under one company, with Henry as a partner. This new company (and the whiskey it made) were called A. Overholt and Co.
Abraham Overholt died in 1870. His grandson, the industrialist Henry Clay Frick ended up with control over the distillery and the company, and changed the name to Old Overholt. The Broad Ford distillery was upgraded twice (in 1868 and 1899) and rebuilt after fires in 1884 and 1905. With the advent of Prohibition, the West Overton distillery was closed, but the Broad Ford plant remained open, making medicinal whiskey.
After Prohibition, the Old Overholt brand was sold to National Distillers, who bottled Old Overholt until 1987, when National was absorbed by Fortune Brands (now Beam Global). Production was first moved to eastern Pennsylvania, then to Kentucky.
Old Overholt is a straight rye whiskey, meaning that it was distilled to no more than 160 proof, put into barrel at no more than 125 proof, and aged in new, charred oak barrels for at least two years, with no additions other than water. It has a attractive honey-amber color, with aromas and flavors of caramel, coconut, rye, and earth. At 80 proof, it is subtle at first, but opens a spicy rye quality on the finish.
Some popular cocktails containing Old Overholt
- Last Caress — Rye, Bénédictine, Maraschino Liqueur, Mezcal, Bitters, Lemon peel
- Blown Rose — Rye, Cinnamon syrup, Lime juice, Pineapple juice, Apple
- Prosecutor — Rye, Elderflower liqueur, Herbal liqueur, Lemon juice
- Manhattan Project — Sweet vermouth, Zucca, Rye, Orange bitters
- Peralta — Rye, Herbal liqueur, Cynar, Bitters, Grapefruit juice, Lemon juice, Grapefruit peel