Maker: Jim Beam, Claremont/Boston, Kentucky, USA (Beam Suntory)
Style: Kenctucky-style bonded straight rye
Age: At least 4 y/o
Proof: 100 (50% ABV)
Michigan state minimum: $25
Appearance: Dark copper.
Nose: Cut grass, leather, tarragon, alcohol, black pepper.
Palate: Full-bodied and silky. Startlight mints, oak, tarragon.
Finish: Anise candy, woodruff, oak, alcohol. Long.
Mixed: Did well on the rocks, with soda and with Ginger Ale. Subtle but good in a Manhattans, and Sazeracs. Quite good with a splash of Akvavit.
Parting words: Old Overholt was founded in Pennsylvania in 1810, making it one of the oldest whiskey brands in the US (maybe the oldest), even older than most single malt Scotch distilleries. It was one of National Distillers’ brands back in 1987 when Beam and ND “merged”. Once the ND distillate ran out, Beam filled OO with its youngest, worst rye, similar to how it turned Olds Crow and Taylor into bottom shelf bourbons. Until last year, Beam little interest in Old Overholt, aside from 2013’s weird, ill-fated “The Olds” ad campaign in collaboration with Onion Labs (yes, affiliated with The Onion).
Jim Beam improved its Jim Beam rye a few years ago, raising it to 90 proof and four years of age. I reviewed it here. ND had produced a BiB years ago, but it had not been produced in decades and was pretty rare even as a “dusty”. Last year, Beam finally brought OO BiB back. The popularity of Heaven Hill’s Rittenhouse Rye was probably a factor in the reintroduction of OO BiB. OO’s old-timey label is also appealing to bearded hipster mixologists and now it finally has liquid inside that will appeal to them too.
Old Overholt Bottled-in-Bond is a good companion to the other fine ryes in Beam’s stable and outclasses competitors like Rittenhouse and Sazerac ($3 more and 5% lower ABV). OO BiB is recommended.