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 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 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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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.
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