One of Philadelphia’s most acclaimed bars tempts whiskey drinkers with an exclusive opportunity to try a limited-release rare rye.
Hop Sing Laundromat acquired Earlier this month, the full reserve of Old Overholt’s 92.6-degree rye whiskey from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, a total of 835 limited-release bottles, said Lê, owner of the North Korean cocktail bar. speakeasy-style in Chinatown.
The distillery had conducted a single release of 600 cases of this 11-year-old spirit in 2020 to celebrate the brand’s 210th anniversary. To honor the roots of the whiskey brand, the cases were distributed exclusively in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Former Overholt was founded in 1810 in West Overton, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The company then moved to Ohio before moving to its current distillery in Kentucky in 1987.
All the whiskey distributed in Ohio has sold out. The whiskey was featured at Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores in Pennsylvania and was popular during the 2020 holiday season, but PLCB spokesman Shawn Kelly said the product did not sell as quickly as foreseen. The PLCB therefore had these bottles in distribution centers and Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores across the state.
A PLCB representative contacted Lê, the bar owner said, asking if he would be interested in buying some of the crates the state had been sitting on for nearly two years. The PLCB is accepting bulk purchase requests from licensees and consumers, Kelly said.
A deal was struck for Hop Sing Laundromat to purchase the entire supply from the state, on the condition that the PLCB could ship it to a Fine Wine & Good Spirits store where Lê could pick it up.
The PLCB accepted and shipped 75 cases of rye whiskey to the Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in Flourtown, Montgomery County. Cases were to be picked up from fulfillment centers and Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores across the state before being shipped.
The allotment was originally 841 bottles, but six bottles were broken during the trip, leaving a total of 835, Lê said, adding that he rented a U-Haul to recover cases.
Bottles of Old Overholt were priced at $75 apiece, meaning the entire stock was valued at around $62,000, according to Lê.
Lê said he bought the entire stock so his customers could enjoy the rare rye whiskey at a reasonable price. He also wanted to prevent out-of-state sellers from buying the bottles and raising prices in future years.
“I just hated that someone from out of state would come and take it out of state,” Lê said. “People like me who live in this town, we’ll never get a taste of it. It’s meant to be for us.”
Hop Sing Landromat – known for its rules as well as its cocktails – of course has rules on how customers can drink their Old Overholt: The bar will only serve pure rye whiskey.
Using the whiskey in a cocktail would be a complete waste, nor will it be diluted by the melting ice, Lê said. A 2 ounce pour will cost $15.
The Hop Sing Laundromat is at 1029 Race St., llocated behind a steel entry door inside an unsigned commercial space. It opened in 2012.
The bar refuses entry to anyone wearing shorts, sandals and flip flops. Inside, photos and cell phone use are not permitted. Breaking the rules or committing other misdeeds, such as tipping the wrong way or being too loud, can cause a person to be on the lifetime ban listwhich has thousands of names.
The Hop Sing laundromat reopened in September after being closed for 18 months during the pandemic. The cash-only speakeasy closed again in December to protect guests and staff, as the omicron variant led to a further rise in coronavirus infections over the holidays.
The bar reopened in early February for service on Fridays and Saturdays with reduced seating and a party limit of a maximum of four people.
All customers must be fully vaccinated and present their physical vaccination card upon entering the bar. Those who don’t will be shown the door and directed to another nearby bar, Lê said.
Hop Sing Laundromat was named one of America’s Best Bars by Esquire in 2019 and one of the Greatest Bars in the World by Conde Nast Traveler in 2015.