The Real Grand Daddy of them all
The oldest continually maintained brand of whisky in the United States was founded in 1810 and was originally distilled in Overton, Pennsylvania. The name? Old Overholt.
Henry Oberholzer was a German Mennonite farmer who moved to western Pennsylvania in 1800. His family came from an area in Germany which specialized in distilling. Henry took a shot at it. His son, Abraham Overholt (the anglicized name), took over the distillery and began producing up to 15 gallons of rye whisky per day.
Prohibition nearly wiped out American breweries and distilleries in 1920. Some produced and sold their whiskies illegally. Others, like Old Overholt was one of the few to receive a permit to produce medicinal whisky sold to druggists.
The version I sipped on the night of the Pennsylvania Whisky Convention a few months ago is a newer bottled-in-bond expression which means among other factors, that the whisky is bottled at 100 proof and aged a minimum of 4 years. Bonding requirements were laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 and have requirements for aging and proof at bottling.
Some reviews I have seen say there is no real difference between the regular version and the bonded other than the higher alcohol content.
For me, I’m not a rye whisky fan. It tends to be too dry for my expectations really when I drink a brown liquor. Spicy, classic rye flavors with an easy nose that were not as bad nor harsh as other rye’s have had.
In 1987, Old Overholt was sold to the James B. Beam Distillery which is a subsidiary of a subsidiary owned by Suntory of Japan. It is marketed together with Old Grand-Dad as “The Olds”. It’s made in Clermont Kentucky now at the Jim Beam distillery but whenever I lift my glass, I will be toasting the Keystone State and Overholt’s Pennsylvania roots.