Stoli Group® USA, LLC announced that it will take over the national distribution, sales, and marketing, as well as the global rollout, for the Kentucky Owl brand, effective immediately. This news comes on the heels of the parent company, S.P.I. Group, acquiring the rights for “The Wise Man’s Bourbon,”™ adding a whiskey brand with a rich history to its burgeoning wine & spirits portfolio.
Kentucky Owl has a storied past, dating back long before a world of wedding registries. Upon marrying his sweetheart in 1879, founder Charles Mortimer Dedman was gifted the bourbon by his adopted father – a judge. This resulted in C.M. Dedman finding his second love just shortly after he said “I do” to his first. Kentucky Owl was produced until 1916 when government agents, compelled by the rising tides of teetotalism, swooped in and hauled some 250,000 gallons of Dedman’s stock by barge up the river to be warehoused under lock and key in Kentucky’s capital of Frankfort.
Sometime after Prohibition was enacted nationwide in 1919, a mysterious fire leveled the warehouse where Kentucky Owl was being stored. It is rumored that Al Capone or a similar big-time crime boss of that era cut a deal for the contents of the facility to be “relocated” before the building burned and that this fine American whiskey
kept well-heeled “night owls” well-oiled throughout Prohibition, by being served up at the finest speakeasies as a rich man’s alternative to bathtub gin. In spite of this considerable loss, the family came into ownership of Harrodsburg, Kentucky’s famed Beaumont Inn, where it continues to thrive to this day.
C.M.’s great-great-grandson and current Beaumont Inn proprietor, Dixon Dedman, joined forces with family friends and California winemakers, Mark and Sherri Carter, to bring Kentucky Owl small batches back to the market in 2008. In 2014, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was the Drinks Category Winner at Garden & Gun magazine‘s “Made in the South” awards. Now, a century after the brand was essentially shut down, it’s spreading its wings to become a veritable “who’s who” of craft bourbons nationwide.
“When we began considering American whiskeys, we were attracted to Kentucky Owl because of its complex, yet very smooth taste profile,” said Dmitry Efimov, CEO of S.P.I. Group. “Upon sitting down with the owners and hearing the story, we became really enthusiastic about revitalizing the brand and concluded that this would be the bourbon to anchor a whiskey line for S.P.I. Our USA team is poised to bring this to market.”
Patrick Piana, President of Stoli Group USA, added, “Kentucky Owl is a great next step for our portfolio of premium and luxury brands. Bourbons have been experiencing impressive growth recently and we see a strong opportunity in the super-premium sub-category, in particular. I’m looking forward to working together with Dixon Dedman to accelerate the trusted product his family built into the cult bourbon brand for the North American brown spirits consumer.“
Dedman will continue to play a critical role as Kentucky Owl is introduced in more markets nationwide and globally and will act as its Brand Ambassador. As a small-batch, super-premium bourbon, the brand adds a new and varied call to the Stoli Group portfolio for consumers and will be well-represented by Stoli Group’s team of spirits experts. Stoli Group USA will begin by expanding Kentucky Owl’s presence in the South, where its talons first took root, and from where it will also take flight to other major US cities.
Stoli Group USA, LLC is a U.S. importer and marketer of alcoholic beverages, headquartered in New York City. Formed in 2013, it is a subsidiary of SPI Group based out of Luxemburg, one of the world’s most dynamic wine and spirits organizations.
S.P.I. Group is an independent company with a talented multinational team with production facilities in the USA, Latvia, Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. The group is committed to a mission of building a respected portfolio of select premium drinks brands, which it achieves by controlling and perfecting every stage of the process, from the cultivation through the distribution.