Borghoff Found Bottle
Written by K. R. Overholt Critchfield, April 22, 2003
Photographs by K. R. Overholt Critchfield
~ Updated 3-21-2008 ~


Chuck Borghoff wrote to me last September (September 2002), saying he had been researching the Old Overholt legacy, trying to find out about the full bottle (corked in 1950) that he had at home. The bottle had been given to him as a gift in 1977, and he had been saving it to open on his 50th birthday in the year 2000. Then Chuck got involved with the Internet and began surfing for information. Happily, he found my web pages, and sent me a note, asking, since I seemed to be "the family voice," would I like to have this bottle of Overholt Whiskey? It still had the original tax label over the cork, and he had taken very good care of it.

Well, after reading this, I was elated and a little worried. I immediately wrote back, saying I was happy to meet him, and the description of his bottle of Overholt Whiskey was very intriguing! It was a valuable find to me, and something I would very much like to own, but I could not afford to buy it, adding, "Can you hear my soul wail?" However, I offered to build a web page highlighting the bottle and post his e-mail address, so that people could get back to him with their offers. I was sure someone would be interested in buying it, since I have seen bottles of Old Overholt offered on Ebay.

Imagine my delight, when Chuck wrote back that he had written to me to offer the bottle as a gift! There were no strings attached! "I've had a lot of fun with this, and since I no longer wish to drink this relic, I would rather give it to someone who has a wailing desire for it."

And so, he mailed it to me! At 11:55 a.m., October 21, 2002, I answered a knock on my front door, and found the package on our porch. The UPS guys never wait around for a signature these days -- they just disappear! But, perhaps it was the condition of the package that spurred the hasty retreat. One corner of the box was crushed! I brought the box inside, hoping the Old Overholt had survived the journey. Luckily, it had, and with only a small amount of leakage. A dark orange-colored towel Chuck had wrapped around the bottle and the liberal packing materials inside the box had saved it from serious damage.

I spent the next four hours scanning images of the bottle into our computer, and then doing the same with the modern bottle of Old Overholt I had kept in my kitchen cabinet for the past 4 or 5 years (and still have). What a difference there was in the two bottles! The old bottle was just beautiful, compared to the utilitarian modern version. As soon as possible, I wanted to create a nice web page to compare the two. As usual, it has taken me a lot longer to accomplish this task than I expected!


Old Bottle vs. New Bottle

On the left is the 1950 bottle of Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey, and on the right is the slightly taller modern version.

The first thing you notice about the old bottle is the lovely curve of the glass, with the signature in raised letters above the label, A. Overholt & Co., and the legend, REG. U-S. PAT.OFF.

On the back of the bottle, raised on the glass, are the words, FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR REUSE OF THIS BOTTLE; 4/5 QUART.


Old & New

Immediately, we see the difference in the quality of the two labels. On the left, the whiskey made in the Fall of 1945 and bottled in the Fall of 1950 is 100 proof (aged 5 full years). The modern bottle declares itself to be 80 proof and four years old.

On the left, we see in bold red letters, BOTTLED IN BOND at the top of a very artistic label printed by Gatto Engraving Co., New York. The newer version copies some of the details of the original, but even the picture of Abraham is a sad imitation.


New Bottle Labels

The modern bottle is slimmer and has the added neck label, which has a bar code on one side and (thankfully) the government warnings we find on all alcoholic beverages nowadays.

GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) ACCORDING TO THE SURGEON GENERAL, WOMEN SHOULD NOT DRINK ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES DURING PREGNANCY BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF BIRTH DEFECTS. (2) CONSUPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE A CAR OR OPERATE MACHINERY, AND MAY CAUSE HEALTH PROBLEMS.




Old Bottle Labels

The smaller label on the back of the old bottle of Overholt Whiskey reads as follows.

OLD OVERHOLT
STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY
BOTTLED IN BOND
"THIS BOTTLE HAS BEEN FILLED AND STAMPED UNDER THE PRO-
VISIONS OF SECTIONS 2903-2909, INCLUSIVE, INTERNAL REVENUE CODE.
ANY PERSON WHO SHALL REUSE THE STAMP AFFIXED TO THIS BOTTLE
OR REMOVE THE CONTENTS OF THIS BOTTLE WITHOUT SO DESTROYING
THE STAMP AFFIXED THERETO AS TO PREVENT REUSE, OR WHO SHALL
SELL THIS BOTTLE, OR REUSE IT FOR DISTILLED SPIRITS, WILL BE
LIABLE TO THE PENALITIES PRESCRIBED BY LAW".

DISTILLED AND BOTTLED BY
A. OVERHOLT & CO., INC., BROAD FORD, PA;
REG. DIST. NO. 3 PA. - I.R.B.W. NO. 3 PA.;
DISTRIBUTED BY
NATIONAL DISTILLERS PRODUCTS CORP., NEW YORK. N.Y.

5101-1


The photograph atop the cork has the name CARLISLE below it. An additional marking of some kind is under the label, on the cork.When I was carefully washing away the leakage from the Borghoff bottle (which sadly also removed the aroma of the contents), a portion of the red band encircling the neck came apart, but the label across the top remained intact and reads as follows.

4/5 Quart; Made Fall 1945;
Bottled Fall 1950;
51-(and the rest of the number);
BOTTLED IN BOND UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF THE
U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERNAL REVENUE BONDED WAREHOUSE;
A. Overholt & Co., Inc.; 100 PROOF




Just Who Bottles Overholt Whiskey These Days?

It is very confusing when someone tries to track down the current distiller of Overholt Whiskey. From my efforts in the past, I discovered Jim Beam Brands Company owns the trademark rights and distills the rye whiskey labeled Old Overholt. However, from recent correspondence with the Pennsylvania Liquor Board, I learned it is Fortune Brands Company -- doing business in Pennsylvania as Future Brands LLC Company -- who owns the brand, though you will find no mention of it on their company web sites, or on the Jim Beam web site, for that matter. Fortune Brands is a division of Jim Beam (aka, Jim Beam Brands Worldwide, Inc.).

Next Question: Exactly where is Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey currently being distilled and bottled? According to the modern label, it is bottled at Frankfort - Clermont, KY by A. Overholt & Co. But we all know that A. Overholt & Company no longer exists, right? I surmise the company name is legally part of the brand name, and Jim Beam Brands owns the rights to it. "DISTILLED IN KENTUCKY," is what the label states, so I guess the whole process is accomplished in the same place that Jim Beam is created.


A Photo Waiting to be Taken; A Story Itching to be Told

I believe it would be nice to have a photograph of the site where Old Overholt is currently being distilled. To that end, if anyone can obtain a nice panoramic view of the site in Kentucky (or wherever), please send it to me, and I will publish it, either on this web page or on its own page. Additionally, if a good reporter in Clermont can swing permission to obtain some photographs of the actual process inside the distillery, and manage to interview a few key personnel for a nice article, and then please send me the results. That would make a great web page, and I (and other Overholt enthusiasts) would be hugely grateful! All submissions will happily display bylines!


I often see ads on Ebay about Overholt items, and many times, they are for old bottles of Overholt Whiskey.

Buying Bottles?

It appears private individuals are selling old Broad Ford bottles, some old pint bottles, and others sporting newer labels.

 

I offer the simple reminder that buyers should make absolutely sure of what is being sold, before putting their money down.


Thanking Chuck Borghoff

It has been wonderful having this fine old bottle of Overholt Whiskey on hand.
Thank you again and again for the gift, Chuck!
I will be keeping it for something very special.



~ Updated March 20, 2008 ~

Searching for Genealogical Data

Almost every week, my Internet correspondents let me know that a new genealogical branch has come to light for The Extended Overholt Family. This is always a delight to me, because my whole adventure into the World Wide Web was taken precisely to find my "long-lost relatives." Back in 2002, Chuck Borghoff wrote to me for purely magnanimus reasons, asking if I would like to have an old bottle of Overholt Whiskey, and then went to the trouble of sending me that bottle, which I still have, by the way! I am saving it and its contents for some really special occasion sometime in the future. Now I have a chance to help Chuck, in return.

The following is taken from an e-mail from Chuck Borghoff, dated March 20, 2008.

Hi, Karen,

It's been a while, but I thought I would update you on our family connection. It appears my grandfather Frank Borghoff had a sister, Elizabeth (Beth) Borghoff, who married an Overholt in Omaha, Nebraska. My brother has been doing the research and believes she lived there until her death around 1930. So, we are connected, but not related. Do you know anyone from the Omaha Overholts who we can contact? Hope all is well with your family.

Thanks,
Chuck


My first task was to update Chuck's e-address and change his designation from "Overholt Interest" to "Extended Family," then I picked up The Oberholtzer Book and looked for Borghoff data, then anything that mentioned Nebraska, but was unsuccessful. After scanning other reference books, and coming up with no leads, I typed up an e-mail giving Chuck a few ideas on how to do some simple online genealogical research. One of the best ways of finding information about any Overholt families around Omaha, Nebraska (or anyplace else in the country) is to advertise on GenForum's web page for the Overholt Family. Forgive me, as I proudly remind everybody that this GenForum page was joyfully launched by me, back in December 1999. To date (3-20-08), it has 295 entries!

Another great resource is the Overholser Family Association, which has a great deal of genealogical data, much that does not appear in Barbara Ford's great volume, The Oberholtzer Book. Currently, Dennis Oberholtzer has taken over the genealogical duties, since the passing of Barbara this past winter. His e-mail address is below. And if anybody can help with this project, please contact Chuck Borghoff directly at the following e-address. Thanks so much!

"Charles Borghoff" woodchuck6@gmail.com

"Dennis Oberholtzer" dloberholtzer@comcast.net


END OF PAGE

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