View Full Version : First Impression of Old Overholt

01-23-2007, 07:28
I just recently bought my first bottle of Old Overholt Rye whiskey. I was expecting something harsh, with a very strong alcohol burn, the kind that you feel in your nose when drinking it. It was $15.99 after tax here in Central NY.

I took a sip from the bottle, and noticed it taste and felt pretty much like bourbon, but the finish on it is kind of cinnamon-y and very full. It makes bourbon seem as if its finish is lacking something, what, I do not know. Its actually easier for me to drink OO than the other bourbons I've tried. Its very tame for a 4yo whiskey IMO. I think I'm hooked!

Sorry for the short description, I will provide a more complete tasting report when I find the time.

So, what's y'alls opinion on this fine whiskey?


01-23-2007, 08:19
"It makes bourbon seem as if its finish is lacking something, what, I do not know.".

I think in fact this is the rye, it seems to add a length and "fullness" to whiskey. Some bourbons that are rye-accented have a fullness very similar to good rye whiskey, e.g., the Heaven Hill brands, Bulleit, and others.


01-23-2007, 15:55
I did not particularly care for Old Overholt. Not that it was bad but it just wasn't strong enough.

01-23-2007, 16:19
It needs to be introduced in 100 proof. That was its traditional strength. The fact that it isn't makes me a little wary about big companies - not all, some of them. I think it is great to see a "natural" package like KC's but the whiskey should be as natural as possible, too - or at least give the informed consumer the option. KC is alright, but Beam would incur a lot of respect amongst many whiskey fans if it introduced OO in a bonded or 100 proof form.


01-23-2007, 18:02
I agree it should be stronger. I think my next step in this Rye adventure will be Rittenhouse BIB, or maybe the baby Saz, I'm not sure yet. I'm going to the local liquor store tomorrow to see what he can order for me. As long as the price is ok, I might end up with the baby Saz.


01-24-2007, 12:30
The Rittenhouse BIB and the Baby Saz are two entirely different beasts. Both are wonderful but really very different. I prefer the Saz Jr. but have had more Rittenhouse BIB because of the fantastic price. I don't think it will stay at that price much longer however.

01-24-2007, 17:57
I'll be picking up a bottle of Rittenhouse BIB either tomorrow or Friday. Does Rittenhouse taste more like a rye should? Not that OO is bad, it's just kind of tame and I'd like to try a real rye heavy whiskey at a full 100 proof.


01-24-2007, 18:34
Good luck trying to figure out how Rye whiskey should taste. Rye is a wild thing and varies greatly at different ages. I love it at any age, but it has distinctive differences as it ages. And if anybody can explain Saz Jr and it's taste...again one that I love...but so unbelievably different than any other rye.

01-24-2007, 18:45
I'll put in a plug for the Rittenhouse. The Baby Saz has a LOT of fans, but the earthy flavor profile is not my cup of tea. I have a friend who can't get enough of it, but I prefer the Rittenhouse. Very spicy and holds up very well in cocktails. I agree with those who find the OO too tame. It's definitely the kinder gentler rye. I've had it in old 86 proof bottlings and enjoyed it more. I imagine a 100 proof would be great.


01-24-2007, 18:50
Good luck trying to figure out how Rye whiskey should taste. Rye is a wild thing and varies greatly at different ages. I love it at any age, but it has distinctive differences as it ages. And if anybody can explain Saz Jr and it's taste...again one that I love...but so unbelievably different than any other rye.

I find one of the main taste elements in baby saz very similar to the way the pages of a leather bound book smelled. Not just any book but a specific edition of the collected writings of Poe. Sadly I no longer have it, an old girlfriend stole it along with a lot of other stuff.

01-25-2007, 17:19
The 21 to 23 year olds are VERY mellow as well. Two of my favorites that I tried at the Gazebo were the 18 and 21 yo Vintage Ryes KBD. A bargain and a little fiestiness as well.

01-25-2007, 18:39
All of the ryes being made today are "barely legal" in that they are right at 51 percent rye, most of the rest being corn. Although I don't know this for certain, I have to believe that back when there were multiple distilleries in Pennsylvania and Maryland making rye, some used more than 51 percent rye. That may have caused ryes of that era to taste different than do ryes today but, of course, there are other differences that apply to bourbons too, such as lower proof of distillation and barrel entry in earlier days, as well as older trees being used for barrels, maybe even some funkier yeast strains, all of which will produce different flavors.

Rittenhouse BIB, made by Heaven Hill, is a favorite of mine and of many people. The Saz Jr also is highly regarded. But Old Overholt and Jim Beam Rye (both made by Jim Beam, probably from the same mashbill and yeast) and Wild Turkey Rye have their partisans too.

01-27-2007, 18:56
Hmm, I read somewhere (here, I believe) that Old Overholt was about 64% rye. For that matter, I just saw a 2004 post from a fellow named Cowdery saying the cheap ryes are about 60%, the better ones higher. Old info?

01-28-2007, 09:09
I said 60 percent? I may have been guessing, but I'm always learning new things and besides, "consistency is the hobgobblin of small minds."

My most recent information is that most ryes made today are "barely legal" as described above.

The thing about rye is that a little goes a long way. You can tell that by tasting a "high rye" bourbon like Old Grand-Dad or Bulleit, a straight rye, and a 100% rye like Old Potrero. Even wheated bourbon, which tastes the way it does not so much because it contains wheat but because it contains no rye.

01-28-2007, 13:38
Interesting. Certainly I (think I) can taste a progression from low-rye bourbon to OGD/Bulleit to Michter's Sour Mash to various ryes. But it seems to me that some of the ryes (Wild Turkey and Sazerac in particular) are rye-i-er in the same way than the others. There's also a repeated rumor on the internet, possibly simply urban legend, that WT and Overholt have about 65% rye and that's the most of the "commercial" brands. I assume your information is not for attribution, but do you figure it covers Wild Turkey, Old Overholt and Sazerac? Thanks.

01-28-2007, 14:18
I can't say I've checked them all off. I know I've asked the question a few times, at various of the distilleries that make straight rye, and kept getting the same answer, i.e., they're all just slightly over the legal minimum.

01-28-2007, 14:19
This site lists WT rye as 65% rye http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/jhb/whisky/smws/126.html

To me WT rye is very rye heavy but has that "muddy" quality I've seen reference to. It's not as instantly likable as Baby Saz but very enjoyable in its own right, plus its readily available in my area.

01-28-2007, 14:26
First Impression of Old Overholt,...OK, I don't care for it.
It is exactly like Jim Beam Rye, (would not suprise me if they both came from the same barrel), and I don't like JBR, to oily, both of them.

Grain Brain
01-30-2007, 20:16
I'd love to get my hands on a vintage, bonded bottle of Overholt. I cut my teeth on Overholt, as far as rye whiskey is concerned, and I'd love to find an old dusty, bonded bottle of it to see how it used to taste back in the day.

01-28-2008, 22:38
I liked the O.O. just fine...until I had the W.T. I wouldn't turn down a drink of O.O. if offered, but when I buy a bottle of rye I would rather pay about 25% more for the W.T. Haven't seen the other brands mentioned here in Oregon probably due to the lesser popularity of rye to bourbon.