A reddit user who goes by the name hanshound recently posted pictures of a box of Prohibition-era whiskey that he got for “a good deal” from the previous owner who stored the near 100-year-old whiskey in his cellar, which is at a controlled temperature of 55 degrees year round. The previous owner originally had two cases, however, he consumed the first case with some friends before deciding to part with the second case, selling to hanshound who happened to be at the right place at the right time.
Originally, it was bottled in the spring for medicinal use only. However it is assumed that it had not been sold to its first owner until after the ratification of the 21st amendment to the US Constitution, which ended prohibition. This is most likely the reason why the label was changed from medical use only to general consumption. These pictures show the unique transition that a box of whiskey took during the prohibition to post prohibition marketing. We are lucky enough to see it today, 94 years after it was barreled and 82 years after it was bottled.
Front of the case containing Overholt Rye Whiskey.
Side view of the case. Hanshound describes the box as having black lettering except for the name “Old Overholt” which is deep purple/blue in color.
On the side of the whiskey box, there is a warning for using the whiskey for any other purpose except for its intended medical purposes.
This part of the case indicates where and when the whiskey was made and bottled. The 24 bottles of whiskey total 3 gallons and they are 100 proof. The whiskey was barreled in 1921 and bottled in Spring of 1933.
Hanshound describes the case itself as follows, “The outer box is extremely heavy and sturdy, made somewhat like putting sheet after sheet of paper together and then submerging them together in glue. The inner dividers are more like cardboard of today.”
Here are 3 of the bottles complete with dosing cups similar to the dosing cups provided with cough syrups and other liquid medications available today.
The label advises the consumer of the penalty of reusing their labels. It says, “This bottle has been filled and stamped under the provisions of the act of Congress, approved March 3, 1897, entitled, “An art to allow the bottling of Distilled spirits in bond”. Any person who shall re-use this bottle for the purpose of containing distilled spirits, without removing and destroying the stamp affixed to this bottle, or who shall re-use the stamp affixed to this bottle, will be liable for each such offense to the fine of not less than One hundred or more than One thousand dollars, and to imprisonment for not more than two years. “
Each label is partially covered by another label. The top label is indicating that the Rye Whiskey is for general consumption. Under the top label it shows the original label, which then shows that it was for medicinal purposes only.
This is the front view of the 24 bottles, in great condition, considering how long they have been sitting in a cardboard box.
The seals must not be in ideal condition because there has been some evaporation. These bottles show the highest and lowest fill levels out of all 24 bottles.
Hanshound collects whiskey and doesn’t plan to sell or drink the Old Overholt Whiskey bottles he purchased. It is rumored that he does plan to loan the case complete with the 24 bottles within to be displayed at a museum. It is hard to say if the whiskey itself is even worth drinking since the seals are obviously not tight and whiskey does not continue to age once it has been bottled.
These bottles of whiskey are an amazing part of the US History, during a time when it was illegal to sell, produce, import, or transport alcohol nationwide from 1920 to late 1933. During this time, it wasn’t necessarily illegal on a federal level to privately own or drink alcohol, however local laws were often made more strict than originally decreed by the 18th amendment to the US Constitution. I love that we were able to see a part of our history and that this second case wasn’t consumed along with the first case by the previous owner!