Kentucky Owl Bourbon was founded in 1879 by Charles Mortimer Dedman, a pharmacist who started distilling bourbon whiskey on the banks of the Kentucky River. Kentucky Owl, as it was called, was branded the “wise man’s bourbon” and the distillery experienced tremendous success with the growth of America’s whiskey industry. However, in 1916 amidst rumors of national prohibition, federal agents descended on the C.M. Dedman Distillery, seized its entire stock of bourbon, and shipped it to a federal warehouse in Frankfurt, Kentucky, where it would eventually be lost to a very suspicious (and perhaps planned) fire at the warehouse. With its entire stock of bourbon gone, the distillery ultimately closed its doors and the “wise man’s bourbon” would be lost for nearly a century. You can read the entire history of the Kentucky Owl brand on the company’s website here.
Kentucky Owl was reborn in September 2014 due to the efforts of Master Blender, Dixon Dedman, C.M. Dedman’s great-great Grandson, with the release of Kentucky Owl Batch No. 1, a very limited release (1250 bottles), sourced Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Since then the company has released 7 additional batches of bourbon and 2 batches of rye whiskey. Stoli Group purchased Kentucky Owl in 2017 and has already started construction on Kentucky Owl Park, a 420-acre site that will house a museum, a visitors center, the distillery, and 12 rick houses. Suffice to say, we will likely see several new releases from Kentucky Owl in the near future. Confiscated marks the company’s departure from limited release bourbon and is the first release to be sold on the national level.
According to Kentucky Owl:
“Confiscated pays tribute to the barrels the government seized from Dixon’s great-great grandfather, C.M. Dedman, just ahead of Prohibition. Those barrels were never seen or tasted again. More than a century later, Confiscated is the first offering from Kentucky Owl that will be available in all 50 U.S. states.”
There is a fair amount of secrecy surrounding this bottle, as the distiller, mash bill, and age have not been disclosed by the distillery. All we do know is that this bourbon was sourced from an undisclosed distillery in Kentucky and this is a straight bourbon whiskey with no age statement, so it is at least 4 years old, which is consistent with the distillery’s prior releases. This bottle comes in at 96.4 proof (48.2% abv) which is the lowest ABV of any Kentucky Owl release thus far. The MSRP for Confiscated is $124.99 but I have already seen prices near $200 in some retail stores.
According to the distillery Confiscated delivers “Notes of gardenia, banana bread, toasty sourdough bread crust, and red apple on the nose. The taste is of graham crackers, citrus, toffee, and muted sweet cinnamon spice, balanced with white grape notes, and a hint of cayenne on the finish.”
Appearance – copper.
Nose – the nose on this bourbon is beautiful. There is a delicate balance of sweet corn, rich, buttery vanilla, and musty oak. On the back end, I found some very soft floral notes and crisp, bright fruit, reminiscent of honeydew melon.
Palate – I think we can assume there is a fair amount of rye in this mash bill because there is a sharp rye spice that presents initially. However, the rye blends nicely with the proof and delivers the perfect amount of burn. I also found the flavors of rich brown sugar, some toasted grain, baking spice (mainly cinnamon), and a few muted citrus notes.
Finish – the finish was somewhat short and dry compared to the initial presentation. The rye spice remains, creating a nice peppery kick, along with more musty oak, leather, cinnamon, and some mild caramel notes that delivered a slight sweetness to finish out the pour.
Overall – I thoroughly enjoyed Confiscated! This bourbon was wonderful on the nose and palate, delivering a delicate but well-defined flavor profile that was exactly what I was hoping for from Kentucky Owl. The finish did feel somewhat short and dry, especially compared to the flavors it delivers up front, but overall I found this to be a very well-rounded pour!
My problem with this bourbon, like so many new releases, is the price tag. This is a great sourced bourbon but I cannot justify spending $125 or more on a bottle that does not deliver on every level. This is another release that I would love to see in the $50-$75 price range. As always, let me know what you think of this pour.