Bottle of Kentucky Owl Maighstir

Charles Mortimer Dedman created Kentucky Owl in 1879 and was designated DSP 16. DSP is short for distilled spirits producer. Kentucky Owl was a known and flourishing brand that was popular until prohibition. Prohibition was enacted nationally on January 17, 1920, but Kentucky began prohibition on January 14, 1918.

At the time, Kentucky Owl was warehousing about two hundred fifty thousand gallons of whiskey or about 4700 barrels. The whiskey was at different points in the aging process but represented future profits and a great deal of quality bourbon. Unfortunately, federal agents seized the aged bourbon and took it to Frankfort, Kentucky, for safekeeping.

A short warehouse fire

The federal government supposedly watched over the whiskey in Frankfort in a secure warehouse. One night, the warehouse mysteriously caught fire and burned to the ground in a very short period. Typically, a whiskey warehouse could burn for days. Still, speculation then was that a shadowy gangster had already removed most of the whiskey—possibly Al Capone or some other bootlegger.

No compensation for the Dedman family

The Dedmans never received any money for their loss, which ended the Kentucky Owl brand at the time. It was another whiskey story that abruptly ended with the onset of prohibition.

The Beaumont Inn

Originally the home of several colleges, the building in Harrodsburg was converted in 1919 into the Beaumont Inn. The Inn quickly became known for its southern hospitality, and the Dedman family legacy became part of this historic location. The Inn began to suffer economically, and closed for a short time. However, the emerging bourbon boom allowed the Inn to regain its former place in the area. There was one problem: they were located in a dry county and could not legally sell liquor to the many people visiting Kentucky just for that experience.

A change in the law

In 2003, the county allowed restaurants to sell liquor by the glass. The change in legislation was welcome news for the Dedman family and eventually grew from the dining room to the addition of two adjoining taverns. The new opportunity to sell liquor by the glass changed the fortune of the location and allowed visitors touring the nearby distilleries to stop in and relax. The Beaumont Inn began to operate year-round and continues to flourish.

Kentucky Owl Rebirth

Dixon Dedman, the great-great-grandson of C. M. Dedman, had the vision and foresight to resurrect the Kentucky Owl brand. Instead of starting from scratch, he sourced good bourbon and learned to blend his whiskey methodically based on many factors. The new releases of Kentucky Owl were quickly sampled, purchased,  and took on a cult-like status. Back in 2019, I wrote about finding Kentucky Owl to sample. You can view that blog here.

A change at the top

In 2017, Dixon Dedman and his partner Mark Carter sold their interest to SPI or the Stoli Group. Mr. Carter left the business, and Dixon stayed on as an ambassador. Mark Carter later re-entered the bourbon market with the release of Old Carter. Later, Dixon Dedman left this operation and became part of the newly released 2 XO Bourbon brand. Mr. Dedman was with Kentucky Owl for seven years, but the brand continues to generate interest in the marketplace. This is obviously an abbreviated version of Kentucky Owl Bourbon History.

Kentucky Owl Maighstir Special Release

I recently had the good fortune to review this bottle; it is one of my favorite Kentucky Owl releases. Maighstir is a Gaelic word for Master, and it brings the talents of two master blenders together. Through their combined expertise, John Rhea and Maureen Robinson have created a wonderfully blended bourbon with scotch whiskey influences. Watch our complete review HERE.

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