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Discovering the Exceptional: Kentucky Owl Bourbon

In the world of bourbon whiskey, few names evoke the same level of intrigue and reverence as Kentucky Owl. With a rich history dating back to the late 1800s, this iconic brand has experienced a remarkable resurgence in recent years, captivating bourbon enthusiasts and

collectors alike. Join us as we delve into the story behind Kentucky Owl and explore what makes their bourbons so exceptional

A Historical Legacy

Kentucky Owl was founded in 1879 in Mercer County, Kentucky by a local pharmacist, Charles Mortimer Dedman.


The Kentucky Owl distillery flourished for over 37 years, until 1916 when federal agents confiscated the Dedman family’s entire whiskey inventory to never be seen again. This was just before Prohibition was introduced in America in 1920.


Then, one dark night, so the story goes, the warehouse that was now holding the precious Kentucky Owl mysteriously burned to the ground. The mysterious part is that the warehouse burned down in just a few hours when a warehouse full of whiskey should have burned for days.

The legend continues as it is rumoured that Kentucky Owl did not burn at all but was spirited away by Al Capone to fuel the demand for good bourbon in Chicago late-night speakeasies. The value of the bourbon lost today would be valued at $40 Million which is the equivalent of R460 Million.


Reviving the Spirit:

In 2014, nearly 100 years after the stock was “lost” Dixon Dedman, Charles Mortimer Dedman's great-great-grandson, breathed new life into the family legacy. With a deep passion for bourbon and a commitment to honouring his ancestors, Dixon Dedman resurrected Kentucky Owl and reintroduced it to the world.


In 2021 Kentucky Owl Bourbon recruited 40 Year Four Roses Veteran John Rhea as Master Blender. Inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2016, Rhea has received numerous accolades for this commitment to the industry.


Having served as Chairman of the Kentucky Distiller’s Association Board, Rhea was honored with lifetime membership, one of only five such memberships in the 130+year old history.    

“I found the one thing that would bring me out of retirement… the opportunity to serve as a steward to Kentucky Owl bourbon and rye, I have long admired the Kentucky Owl product line up and I am thrilled to have this opportunity.”


– Master Blender, John Rhea -



Watch this space!

We are excited to announce Kentucky Owl will be landing in South Africa throughout this year. The Wiseman’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon, will be available in July with the Wiseman Rye edition following in September. And there is more good news as there is a limited allocation arriving in Q4 for Kentucky Owl confiscated and the Kentucky Owl Takumi limited edition. Closer to arrival date we will share more information!




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