Old Overholt has been around for quite a long time and it has a very storied history that starts back in the early 1800’s. Back then, in ye olden times, Old Overholt was being made in Pennsylvania, where a lot of rye whiskey was made at the time, but is now owned and made by Jim Beam in Kentucky. For the last 200+ years Old Overholt has been loved, parodied, used as “medicinal” alcohol by the Navy, was supposedly the favorite whiskey Mr. Doc Holliday and until the recent whiskey and cocktail renaissance was often the only rye you could find.
This warm and spicy concoction of at least 51% rye (along with some corn and barley) is currently being made in Kentucky under the watchful eye of the Beam distillers and is among my favorite “bottom shelf” whiskeys. Besides being dirt cheap (avg $15 – $20) it’s incredibly flexible. Neat, chilled, on the rocks or even better in a cocktail, this whiskey is a stalwart and reliable workhorse no matter how you drink it.
Old Overholt Review
Age: 3 years
Price: $20 (1 Liter)
The first thing I notice is a thick sweet scent like caramel frosting followed up by some notes of graham cracker pie crust, cinnamon and green apples. Round that out with a bit of iodine and a slight but steady rye spice you end up with a nice bouquet that is pleasing, but quite light on the rye notes.
The rye spice pops a bit more here and it’s accompanied by a hints of lemon pepper, course grains and some soft woodiness. A strange subversive sweetness runs alongside the spicy peppery fruit and creates a very interesting juxtaposition of flavors.
Medium with green apples and graham cracker that fades to sugared oak.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Like most light bodies and smooth whiskies it’s well balanced but that’s also because it’s not very complex. Balance in a complex whiskey is impressive, but balance in a light and smooth whiskey is more or less expected.
Old Overholt is a decent rye whiskey with plenty to offer in the versatility category and is light and easy in all the right ways. It’s not the kind of deep and complex whiskey you want to sit and slowly pick apart, it’s the light but flavorful whiskey you want to break out at get-together and share with your friends. When you care about having something that tastes good, but doesn’t pull your attention away from whatever’s going on the way a rich and complex whiskey can sometimes do.
Old Overholt: Last Glass Update (11-16-14)
Sitting here with the last glass of this 1 liter bottle in my hand I can’t help but look back and say… it’s definitely a good rye, it’s remarkable how well it stood up over the months, but after careful evaluation I think it needs to drop down to an 83 from an 84. It’s good, I just wish there was just a bit more of a kick and a punch from the rye spice. That it had just a little bit more of a get up and go to it than it does and the rye was a more prominent throughout.
Then again that relaxed and easy nature is part of it’s charm… interesting how that works. Regardless, it’s welcome in my home any time from here on out and would be a great addition to any home bar for cocktails or even to drink neat and mix things up from time to time
FINAL VERDICT: A good rye that is worth the price and will definitely be buying again and again and again.