Why Waste Money

On Overpriced and Substandard Whisky

America’s Oldest Brand of Whiskey – From West Overton to Your Glass

Not only is Old Overholt rye whisky one of America’s oldest American whisky brands, but it’s also one of the most affordable ones you can buy.

This fact, coupled with the fact that the whisky prides itself on its fine taste, leads many people to wisely choose it over other rye whisky options on the market. Find out why Old Overholt may be the best whisky for you.

In today’s guide to OO, we’ll talk about what makes this whisky so special, as well as how much you should expect to pay for a bottle.

Moreover, we’ll touch upon the history of the brand, its role in popular culture, as well as how this whiskey was made, and who is the man who started it all – Abraham Overholt.

Finally, as an extra treat for all whiskey lovers out there, we’ll present 4 cocktails that you can make using Old Overholt Rye Whisky.

Old Oveholt Rye Whisky: Everything You Need to Know about America’s Most Beloved Rye Whisky

Old Overholt Price

What surprises people most about the Old Overholt rye whiskey is that it costs a pittance compared to other similar brands.

For example, a 1 liter bottle will only set you back about $20. A 750ml bottle costs $13.

Keep in mind that the amount of money you pay for it also depends on the place where you buy it from.

old overholt

Special Features

One of the most distinguishable features of Old Overholt rye is its sweet and thick scent that is immediately noticeable.

This scent is complemented by countless interesting flavors, such as cinnamon, green apple, and graham crackers.

The rye spice that is common of all rye whiskey brands is less noticeable in this particular rye whiskey, which is something many people enjoy.

However, the whisky is still spicy, spiciness which is toned down by a certain sweetness coupled with notes of lemon pepper and coarse grains. This is another feature that makes Old Overholt whisky so special.

The tasting notes that are important in every whisky are extremely surprised when it comes to this rye whisky, which proves that even if it has a light body and it isn’t as complex as other whiskeys.

Old Overholt is still well-balanced.

The Process of Making Old Overholt Rye Whiskey

For several decades, the Overholts made their whiskey using the “three chamber” still.

This is an American invention from the 1800s.

The “three chamber” still got its name from the fact that it was split into three compartments that managed to turn the wash you placed into two of the top compartments into purified steam. Then, the steam turned into whiskey after condensation.

It’s worth noting that the workers who took care of making Old Overholt at that time had to operate the still manually.

Naturally, this was hard work. However, it was also the most efficient way in which they could make whiskey, not to mention the cheapest.

old overholt box

Old Overholt History

The first bottle of Overholt was made in 1810.

At that time, Henry Overholt had been living with his family in Western Pennsylvania for 10 years. Apart from farming, one of his main interests was distilling, more precisely rye distilling.

From this background, he started producing rye whiskey in a small distillery. Even though Henry was producing whiskey in small amounts, his son, Abraham Overholt, started producing more and more.

Eventually, he turned the small distillery into a real business.

Abraham worked a lot to develop the family business. He even involved some of his own children and other relatives.The Old Overholt distillery was rebuilt, other buildings were added to it, and more people were hired to help the Overholts make their increasingly popular whiskey. Plus, you could find ads for Old Overholt rye whiskey in the pages of local newspapers.

When Abraham died, the business didn’t die with him.

It has had many owners from the Overholt clan. The last one, Henry Clay Frick, was the son of one of Abraham’s daughters and a Swiss mill worker called John W. Frick.

After his death, his friend Andrew Mellon took charge of the distillery. Then, the National Distillers Products Co. purchased the brand and became its owner until 1987.

At that time, Jim Beam Brands bought National Distillers, which made Old Overholt rye a Beam Brand product named “Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey”.

A Brief History of Abraham Overholt

Since Abraham Overholt is the man to whom we owe the existence of Old Overholt rye whiskey, we thought we’d also include a small section dedicated to his life and how he managed to build the business that still thrives today (even if it has continued under a different ownership).

abraham overholt


The first important thing to know about him is that he proved his passion for distilling ever since he was 16.

When he was 26, he took over his father’s business. As previously mentioned, he greatly expanded operations.

With the wealth that he managed to gather from the distilling business, he built a large home for him and his family, as well as other buildings next to the distillery. These would serve as workers’ houses.

He also built two houses for his two sons, Henry and Christian, and financed his son Jacob’s effort to open another Overholt distillery nearby.

Abraham’s hard work and dedication also show in the fact that he remained in charge of his business until the day he died.

This is what prompted future owners of the distillery to use his picture on the label of every Old Overholt rye whisky produced.

Old Overholt Rye Whiskey in Popular Culture

Since Old Overholt is the oldest American whiskey, it should come as no surprise that it also has a special place in American popular culture.

For example, during World War II, people in the United States Navy used to drink it. At that time, it was called medicinal whiskey.

The Old West also has a strong connection with Old Overholt whiskey. In Tombstone, Arizona, you can serve “Old West” in tourist saloons.

Mad Men and the 60's

This whiskey also made its way into novelscartoons, and television shows.

In the television show Mad Men, we see the main character, Don Draper, make his drink of choice, an Old Fashioned, using Old Overholt rye whiskey.

Terry Pratchett

Author Terry Pratchett parodied the whiskey in his novels “Soul Music” and “The Dark Side of the Sun”, calling it Old Overcoat.

Terry Pratchett

Source: Wikipedia

You can also see a parody of the whiskey in a cartoon from Warner Brothers.

Famous Imbibers

Finally, what made this whiskey an even more important part of popular culture is the fact that many famous American figures drank it.

Abraham Lincoln

Source: Wikipedia

Among the most notable ones include:

  • U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
  • U.S. President John F. Kennedy
  • U.S. President and Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
  • Arizona outlaw Johnny Ringo
  • Gambler and gunfighter Doc Holliday
old overholt whiskey

4 Cocktail Recipes That Include Old Overholt Rye Whiskey


  • ¾ oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • ¾ oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • ¾ oz Cynar
  • ¼ oz Lemon juice
  • ½ oz Grapefruit juice
  • 1 ds Bitters (Deep Elum house)
  • 1 twst Grapefruit peel (to use as garnish)

Shake everything together, strain, coupe, straight up, and then garnish.

The cocktail has a slightly bitter and herbal flavor.

Last Caress

  • 2 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • ¼ oz Mezcal, Del Maguey Minero
  • ¼ oz Maraschino Liqueur, Luxardo
  • 2 ds Bitters, Angostura
  • ¾ oz Bénédictine
  • 1 twst Lemon peel (flamed)

Stir everything together, strain, coupe, and add the flamed lemon twist. The Last Caress cocktail has a great balance and an excellent finish.


  • 1 ½ oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • ½ oz Elderflower liqueur, St. Germain
  • ½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • ½ oz Lemon juice

Shake everything together, place in a chilled single rocks glass, and drink it without a garnish.

This cocktail has a lovely yellow color and an herbal flavor.

Lovecraft in Brooklyn

  • 1 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
  • ¾ oz Aromatized wine, Tempus Fugit Kina L’Avion D’Or
  • 1 oz Jamaican rum, Appleton V/X
  • ½ oz Madeira, Blandy’s Malmsey 5 Year
  • 1 ds Bitters, Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter
  • 2 ds Grapefruit bitters, Scrappy’s Grapefruit
  • 1 twst Orange peel (flamed)

Stir everything together, strain on a rock, and garnish with some flamed orange peel.

This combination of ingredients provides this cocktail with a strong and flavorful aftertaste.

Final Thoughts

three old overholt bottles
Old Overholt rye whiskey is definitely one of the best rye whiskey options you have on the American market. This explains part of its incredible success, even to this day.

We hope this brief Old Overholt review and overview, together with the details about how it was made and what its history looks like, have helped you become more familiar with the brand and the beverage in itself.

If you consider yourself a whiskey aficionado, this guide to Overholt can help you understand it better.

Just from a brief comparison between Old Overholt rye whiskey and other brands of American rye whiskey, Overholt whiskey seems to be the most qualitative option for the price you pay. While you can also enjoy it neat, the best use for this whiskey is for cocktails.

If you want to include it into your cocktails more, start with the 4 options we provided above and go from there.

Did you find this guide useful? Consider sharing this with your friends. Don’t forget to follow us and let us know what you thought of this exquisite whiskey.

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