Old Overholt's history is the story of rye whiskey in America

Old Overholt

Rye whiskey was arguably once the most popular spirit in the United States. Unlike its cousin bourbon, rye didn't recover following Prohibition until the recent cocktail revival also reversed its decline. On The Daily Beast website, historian and cocktail authority David Wondrich takes a fascinating in-depth look at the rise and fall of Old Overholt, the oldest rye whiskey in the country.

Old Overholt isn't just the oldest surviving rye whiskey made in the US, it's the oldest whiskey period. It dates back over 200 years, when Henry Oberholtzer (who anglicized his name) moved his family to the frontier of western Pennsylvania and began to farm. Henry brought with him a common method of preserving the grain harvest that could also bring in additional revenue: distilling it.

If you have ever even briefly pondered the history of whiskey, you'll enjoy reading Wondrich's meticulously detailed yet never boring account of how this homestead distilling operation grew to be one of the most popular whiskeys in the 19th century and beyond. Wondrich weaves a broader history of the spirit in his retelling of Henry Oberholzer's tale.

Photo of whiskey sours made with Old Overholt whiskey by Darcie Boschee

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