The story of the Kentucky Owl dates back to 1879 in north Mercer County, Kentucky. The original distillery was started by C.M. Dedman, an orphan who was adopted by a judge that gifted Dedman the distillery as a wedding present. Dedman operated the distillery until 1916 when the government shut down the operation and confiscated around 250,000 gallons of bourbon aging at the time. Sometime in 1919, after the passing of the Volstead Act, a mysterious fire destroyed the warehouse. It is speculated that the fire burned only bright enough to make the warehouse unusable and that a great deal of the bourbon made it out unscathed before the fire was set: It is thought that the bourbon made it into the hands of those that would sell it in speakeasies across the country. T.C. Dedman, the son of C.M. would fight tooth and nail to receive compensation for the loss, but never saw a dime. Despite insurmountable odds, the family came into ownership of the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, KY, which is run by the Dedmans to this day.
Fast forward five generations, and the Inn is now operated by Dixon Dedman, whose hands-on approach to the management of the Inn speaks volumes of doing things “the proper way” (Beaumont Inn). Several years ago, Dixon met Mark Carter, fellow innkeeper and proprietor of Carter Cellars in Napa Valley, California (Carter Cellars). After long discussions (and a few drinks), plans to bring back the Kentucky Owl, “the Wise Man’s Bourbon,” started taking shape. Dixon and Mark wanted to make sure that this first batch was done correctly and in a way that would pay tribute to the many generations that came before them. With that philosophy in mind, they decided that their bourbon would come in at barrel proof and be uncut/unfiltered. – thebourbonguys.com
Tasted: Neat, in a glencairn glass
I was lucky enough to score a taste of the upcoming Kentucky Owl Batch #6 that is projected to be released in September. This batch consists of a blend of 8 different barrels ranging from 8-11 years old which came out to a total of 1,634 bottles. Kentucky Owl retails for around $165 and is only sold in Kentucky for the foreseeable future.
Color: This is a first for one of my reviews. I have never mentioned color before. Mostly because the color of numerous varieties of bourbons are so similar that it really isn’t worth noting. However, right when I saw this pour in the glass I knew it was considerably darker than most bourbons. Almost like a mahogany coloring with some barrel char still present.
Palate: Cinnamon. Rye spice. Honey. Caramel. Pepper. Hint of oak. Touch hot on the palate for 111.2. This is definitely a spice forward pour. Which I tend to prefer in my bourbon. There are bold flavors on the palate that grab your attention right away. Great oily mouth feel. The mouth feel alone makes this bottle a winner for me. Yum!
Finish: Medium to long finish. Oak. Cinnamon. Rye spice.
Grade: 90 – 92 (A-) = Excellent, Want to buy a case
The Kentucky Owl Batch #6 is a winner in my book. Batch #6 is a unique bourbon that keeps your attention with bold flavors, rich mouth feel, and dark coloring that justifies a “A-” grade. While I’m not sure of the mashbills in the 8 barrels that were blended together to make this spicy deliciousness, I would have to imagine that a few were high rye. Not that Kentucky Owl needs anymore hype in the bourbon community as their limited offerings always sell out quickly, but I prefer batch #6 considerably more than batch #2 which is the only other Kentucky Owl I have tasted. The $165 price tag stings a little, but I would purchase a bottle or two for a special occasion pour.
I’m not a big wine guy, but I know enough that some of the most famous old world wines come with interesting backstories that have been passed down through generations and make for good conversation while enjoying a bottle. I feel that Kentucky Owl and it’s recent resurrection by Dixon Dedman have a similar type of rich story line that makes for an interesting discussion over a pour with family/friends. Cheers!
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