The A. Overholt & Company is an abandoned distillery in West Overton, Pennsylvania. It operated out of its Pennsylvania facility from 1800 to 1987.
Henry Oberholzer, a German Mennonite farmer, moved to West Overton in 1800. 1 Oberholzer came from an area of Germany which specialized in distilling rye whiskey and opted to take up the tradition.
Oberholzer’s son, Abraham Overholt (a name Anglicized from Oberholzer), took over management of the distillery in 1810. 1 Within a decade, the company was outputting 12 to 15 gallons of rye whiskey per day.
By the 1840’s, the company had expanded throughout the region, becoming known as Overholt’s “Old Rye” during a time when only the very distinguished distilleries were advertised by name. 1 In 1859, Overholt incorporated the distillery as A. Overholt & Company.
A new six-story, 100-foot long building was soon erected that could produce 860 gallons per day. 1
In 1881, Abraham’s grandson, Henry Clay Frick, took over the company. 1 Frick enlisted the help of Andrew Mellon and Charles W. Mauck as partners, with each owning one-third of the business.
Mauck adopted the name Old Overholt as the official name of the company in 1888, and added a picture of Abraham as the logo. 1 Around the same time, the company began selling its product in glass bottles instead of barrels.
By 1900, Old Overholt had become a national brand, 1 growing to become one of the largest distilleries in the country. 2
Frick died in December 1919 and left his share to Mellon. 2
In 1920, the national prohibition of alcohol took effect. Because of the distillery’s association with Mellon, who was then secretary of the treasury under President Harding, Old Overholt was able to secure a permit for selling medicinal whiskey. 2 The permit allowed Overholt to sell existing whiskey stocks to druggists for medicinal use.
Under pressure from prohibitionists, Mellon sold his share of the company to a New York grocer in 1925. 2 The distillery was then sold to National Distillers Products Company in 1932, which owned more than 200 brands.
During World War II, Overholt was ordered by the federal government to product industrial alcohol. 2 After the conclusion of the war, whiskey fell out of favor with the public and by the 1960’s, Old Overholt was the only nationally distributed straight rye whiskey. In 1987, Old Overholt was sold to the James Beam Distilling Company and production moved to Kentucky.