A story like no other bourbon's.

Dixon Dedman and the story of Kentucky Owl.
Dixon Dedman and the story of Kentucky Owl.
OUR HERITAGE
Our Founder

A love story for bourbon lovers.

Some wedding gifts last a little longer than others.

Kentucky Owl was founded in 1879 by a local pharmacist, Charles Mortimer Dedman. He and his new bride received a large parcel of land on the banks of the Kentucky River as a wedding gift from his adopted father, a town judge. After running it by his wife, he decided to build the C.M. Dedman Distillery. For decades, it produced "The Wise Man's Bourbon" under Distilled Spirits Plant Designation “No. 16,” one of Kentucky’s original distilleries and part of a booming industry.

Prohibition
Prohibition

How Prohibition left Kentucky Owl high and dry.

For decades, the Kentucky Owl continued to flow until Prohibition put an end to the party.

Try as they might, the Dedman family could not hold out against the forces of teetotalism, temperance and eventually, the Feds. In 1916, as total Prohibition loomed, local distilleries had a lot of perfectly good bourbon sitting around. In the case of Kentucky Owl, something like 250,000 gallons of it in various stages of aging. (In today’s dollars, think “$40 million in inventory.”).

Federal agents descended on the Dedman’s distillery, seized the bourbon, and shipped it up the river by barge to the state capital in Frankfort for “safekeeping” in a warehouse.

A Midnight Fire
A Midnight Fire

How the old way of doing things went up in smoke.

One night, so the story goes, that warehouse full of Kentucky Owl mysteriously burned to the ground. The mystery part is why the warehouse burned down in a few short hours when, common sense would tell you, a fire fueled by that much whiskey should have burned brightly enough to read The Frankfort State Journal by for days. This much was certain: C.M. Dedman would never distill another dram or another drop.

The Mystery Remains
A Mystery Remains

Kentucky’s loss. Chicago’s gain?

Rumors persist that, rather than fueling a fire, those barrels were spirited away by Al Capone or another gangster operating in the area to inflame the late-night frolics of Chicago speakeasies. Maybe an enterprising night watchman or two would have told you, but they can't divulge that information from six feet under. The Dedmans never received a penny for the lost bourbon and Kentucky Owl disappeared into the pages of family history. Until now.

Meet Dixon Dedman
Meet Dixon Dedman

You’re not just drinking bourbon. You’re drinking history.

Growing up in his family's Beaumont Inn, Dixon Dedman had heard the story of his great-great grandfather's rise and fall in the bourbon business many times. The family had come into ownership of the famed Harrodsburg, Kentucky property in 1919 and some 85 years later, Dixon found himself running the inn. In between washing dishes and serving whiskey to travelers along Kentucky's Bourbon Trail, he'd dream of one day bringing back Kentucky Owl. The idea — one that could only come from a guy with old bourbon in his blood, who was still naive (and maybe crazy) enough to try something new — would not leave him.

He began to look into hand-selecting and blending high-quality barrels to recreate a new, small batch Kentucky Owl.

How It Started
Resurrecting the family’s storied bourbon

A great, great bourbon to honor his great-great-grandfather.

Kentucky Owl Batch No. 1 was six years in the making. Family friends and kind distillers he had met helped Dixon get a hold of some of the best barrels of bourbon in Kentucky. Taking samples from each barrel, Dixon combined them in different ways, looking for the right blend. As he says, "I'm not some chemical engineer in a lab coat, looking for a perfect 'congener profile.' I didn't even start out with a taste in mind; I just went where the bourbon took me." Tasting, blending, rebarreling, even recharring the barrels, he worked hard (as hard as you can work when you're sitting in an old storeroom tasting whiskey all night) to make something new and something C.M. Dedman would be proud to put the family name on.

In the mornings, he'd jog out past old C.M.'s gravestone and wonder what he would think.

Soon, he had created a batch good enough to suit his tastes and Kentucky Owl was reborn.

"I just wanted to share Kentucky Owl bourbon with my friends and family, a bourbon that my great-great grandfather created and shared with his family and friends 100 years ago."

Dixon Dedman, Kentucky Owl Master Blender

Acclaim & Accolades
Acclaim & Accolades

Our bourbon speaks for itself. Occasionally, others talk back.

Made from some of the finest bourbon in Kentucky. Barrel proof, uncut and unfiltered. You can’t hide much when what’s in the bottle is what’s in the barrel.

Dixon's artfully blended craft bourbons have become a cult sensation. Every batch has sold out almost solely by word of mouth. Here’s what those mouths had to say.

The Future
The Future

Here’s to what’s next.

Very little dust ever settles on a bottle of Kentucky Owl. They’re usually flying out the door as soon as the labels go on and the ink dries on the handwritten batch and bottle numbers.

And if Dixon can make bourbon like this out of the back of the family inn, just wait ‘til he gets his hands on a distillery. But, each new batch will always be an original, carefully crafted by the master blender, Dixon himself.

Stay tuned – and keep a glass handy.See our products

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Releases

Discover the Kentucky Owls.

Batch #7
Batch #7
118 Proof

15 Barrels, 4 Barrels 8-9 Years Old, Introduced to New Charred Oak at Year 2, 11 Barrels 13+ Years Old
Bottles: 2,535
118 Proof / 59% Alcohol by Volume

Nose has notes of caramel toffee, sweet char, crème brulee, cinnamon, vanilla and apple . Bright initial rich caramel sweetness. Vanilla and toffee coats the front of the palate, lingers and then spreads across the back. Mid-palate tingles with pepper, cinnamon, and a hint of ginger. Finish is lingering spice with deep oak notes.

118 Proof
Batch #6
Batch #6
111.2 Proof

8 Barrels reintroduced to Charred New American White Oak at 2-4 years old, average age 8-11 years
Bottle Release: 1634 Bottles
111.2 Proof / 55.6 % Alcohol By Volume

Nose brings to mind caramel, oak, charred oak. Some deep leather – saddle leather. Some tobacco too – sweet pipe tobacco. Deep molasses notes. Hints of cinnamon-y cobbler crust. Mouthfeel is syrupy and rich. Nice initial sweetness. Finish has subtle spice but lingers. Coats entirety of the palate – not just localized to one particular area. There’s a certain thickness to the mouthfeel. Initially notes of toffee and caramel with some crème brûlée sweetness. Finishes with smooth peppery spice that lingers longer than you expect.

108 Proof
Batch #5
Batch #5
111.2 Proof

Reintroduced to New American White Oak at 2 years old (Char 4)
Bottle Release: 194 Bottles
108 Proof / 54 % Alcohol By Volume

Heavy and rich nose. Maple syrup and butterscotch candy is there. A touch of graphite and charred oak. Syrupy and sweet on the front of the palate. It lingers up front with a certain richness found in bourbons that rely on the barrel for their flavor profile. It spreads across the palate and ends with delicate pepper spice but the front of the palate continues to be soaked in syrupy sweetness. Driven by the caramelized sugars in the oak.

108 Proof
Batch #4
Batch #4
116.8 Proof

Reintroduced to New American White Oak at 2 years old (Char 4)
Bottle Release: 212 Bottles
116.8 Proof / 58.4 % Alcohol By Volume

Soft nose that smells of caramel. Light, rich, and creamy. Initial sweetness is very much there but finishes with nice barrel spice. Syrupy and thick on the palate. The taste is much lighter than the proof would have you expect. It’s well-balanced with initial sweetness, a round caramel center, and slight spice on the finish.

116.8 Proof
Batch #3
Batch #3
107.8 Proof

Reintroduced to New American White Oak at 2 years old (Char 4)
Bottle Release: 206 Bottles
107.8 Proof / 53.9% Alcohol By Volume

The nose is light, sweet, and creamy. Notes of oak, slight cinnamon, and hints of barbecue. It initially tastes higher in proof than it actually is, and with a touch of water, becomes mild and rich. Notes of sweet corn and sweet char. With air, look for a combo of green apple and cinnamon, making you think of a spicy apple cobbler.

107.8 Proof
Batch #2
Batch #2
117.2 Proof

6 Barrels reintroduced to Charred New American White Oak at 4 years old (3 Char 4, 3 Char 5)
Bottle Release: 1360 Bottles
117.2 Proof / 58.6 % Alcohol By Volume

A much sweeter, more syrupy release than Batch #1. The nose has corn, sweet cedar, and a spicy oak character. Rich and creamy on the front of the palate gives way to spice on the end and a hint of the cinnamon. A nice lingering black pepper spice finish.

117.2 Proof
Batch #1
Batch #1
118.4 Proof

5 Barrels reintroduced to Charred New American White Oak at 4 years old (Char 2, Char 3, Char 4, Char 5, Char 6)
Bottle Release: 1250 Bottles
118.4 Proof / 59.2 % Alcohol By Volume

Heavily reliant on the Char 5 and Char 6 barrels for a full-flavored, spicy bourbon. Rich in consistency, and a blast of cinnamon on the finish. Baking spices and pine across the middle. The nose reminds you of a cinnamon disk candy.

118.4 Proof
Straight Rye
Straight Rye
110.6 Proof

11 Years Old
110.6 Proof / 55.3% Alcohol by volume

The nose on this rye has elements of sweet pine, honey, nougat, vanilla, cloves and lavender. Oaky undertones, subtle cedar saw dust or fresh split cedar. Rich in consistency and not forwardly spicy on the nose. It immediately coats the entire palate and nutmeg and cinnamon give way to pepper spice with vanilla on the front and anise across the middle. Subtle cinnamon spice clings to the finish.

110.6 Proof
Coming Soon
Straight Rye

Based on the popularity of the first batches of Kentucky Owl, Dixon’s been hard at work on a few new and exciting things. In fact, even now, new barrels of Kentucky Owl bourbon and rye created and distilled “from scratch” by Dixon are aging in Kentucky. No word just yet on when it will be released, but we’ll let you know when Dixon says it’s perfect.

RECIPES

You don’t mess with great bourbon.
You drink it.

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