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This Old Overholt Whiskey Cache Dates Back To Prohibition

In what very well could be one of the best scores of Prohibition-era whiskey in recent times, that I’ve seen anyhow, a reddit user by the name of hanshound has posted some rather incredible photos (the slideshow of which you can see at the end of this story) of a case of very old Old Overholt whiskey that looks remarkably intact and which is now in his possession. The whiskey, according to one of the images, was made in the fall of 1921 and bottled in the spring of 1933.

This whiskey, of which there are 24 bottles in the case, reportedly came from a guy who had “two cases” of it sitting around in his “55 degrees year round” cellar. This unnamed previous owner had already drank through one case with friends at some time in the past and was ready apparently to part with the other. As hanshound put it, he was “at the right place at the right time” when it came to being able to take possession of this incredible cache of old time whiskey, paying an undisclosed price he felt was “a good deal.”

Old Overholt
Old Overholt Whiskey (image via hanshound)

As to the quality of what’s in the bottle, that is, of course, hard to say after so many years without a close up inspection of the bottles. That being said, the new owner said on reddit in response to questions around this “there has been some evaporation on these which means the seals aren’t perfect, but they’re pretty damn good for how old they are.”

hanshound, being a whiskey collector, apparently has no plans to sell or drink the Old Hoverholt. He is perhaps thinking of loaning the case and its bottles to a museum though for display, which his pretty cool if that indeed is what ends up happening.

The specifics of this whiskey, from the photos he has provided online, tell a lot of the tale already. It is a rye expression under the A. Overholt and Co. label out of Broad Ford, Pennsylvania, which was established in 1810. The whiskies in this case were originally “bottled in bond” for medical purposes only, which would make sense given it happened during the Prohibition era, which ran between 1920 and 1933 before being repealed with the ratification of the 21st amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Now one particularly fascinating factoid with this case is the bottle back labels apparently were stacked atop one another to indicate an apparent change in their status from medicinal only use to general consumption. This was likely due to the fact that they were bottled the same year Prohibition ended, meaning they hadn’t been sold to their first owner yet.

This batch of Old Overholt Pennsylvania rye whiskey was produced by Large Distilling Co. and bottled at 100 proof. Tax stamps appear on the bottles, as well as “dosage cups” which, according to hanshound, would have been used “to pour and drink.” The one pint bottles were distributed by Schenley Distillers Corporation out of New York.

Old Overholt today, by comparison to what it was back in Prohibition times, continues to be produced but is under ownership of Beam Suntory. It is made at the Jim Beam distillery in Kentucky, being aged three years and bottled at 80 proof. It is largely considered a bottom shelf, bargain rye whiskey best enjoyed as a cocktail ingredient.

Prohibition Era Old Overholt 24 Pack

How Jim Beam Survived Prohibition

This is the fascinating story of Prohibition’s impact and Jim Beam’s subsequent recovery, revitalizing America’s bourbon industry. 

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