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.
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 Journalby for days. This much was certain: C.M. Dedman would never distill another dram or another drop.
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.
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.
The nose has notes of honey, cinnamon and warm cinnamon rolls from the oven. Strawberry jam. Combination of rich sweetness and baking spices. Initial flavors of sweet cinnamon disc candy mix with brown sugar syrup. Honey with a red pepper that lingers.