Thursday, March 29, 2012
Dusty Thursday: Older Overholt - Pennsylvania Rye circa 1940
I recently compared the current Beam produced Old Overholt to the National Distillers version made at the Old Grand-Dad distillery in Kentucky. Now, a generous soul has sent me a sample of Overholt from 1940. At the time, Overholt was owned by National Distillers, but they were still making it in Pennsylvania. This is only my second tasting of an old Pennsylvania rye, but let's see how it stacks up.
Old Overholt (circa 1940), 4 years old, 50% abv.
The nose on this is really nice with sandalwood and other spice notes along with some vanilla and a dash of maple syrup. That sandalwood carries through on the palate with some soapy type notes (in a good way). The finish is bold and spicy like cologne.
I've only had one other Pennsylvania Rye, but this Overholt tastes much more like that one than any of the other Overholts I've had. As I said then, the spiciness is less in the character of cooking spices, which I detect in modern ryes, and more in the character of wood, soap and subtle cologne. I assume some of that is due to a high rye content and a lack of corn but is probably also due to elements, such as yeast and water, that were specific to that particular industry in that particular location.
Having had two Pennsylvania ryes now, what is becoming clear to me is that Pennsylvania was more than a geography, it was a distinct style of whiskey which no longer exists today and may not be able to be recreated.