Kentucky Owl Confiscated
Birthdays are always wondrous events, and in this household, there's a good chance you'll be gifted some fine bourbon. So it was this year when I was given a bottle of Kentucky Owl Confiscated.
Taking Bourbon for "Safe Keeping"
Kentucky Owl was founded in 1879 by Charles Mortimer Dedman and produced fine bourbon into the early 1900s. Just prior to Prohibition coming to Kentucky, the government seized 250,000 gallons of bourbon for "safekeeping". Later, the warehouse where the bourbon was stored caught fire and burned to the ground. Oddly, though, the fire lasted only a few hours - rather than days - quite unusual for a building packed with volatile alcohol. That led many to suspect that the entire stash had been whisked away - either by the government or by organized crime to quench the nation's thirst during its dry days.
Nearly a century later, the great, great-grandson of Dedman relaunched the family business. In partnership with Bardstown Bourbon Company the brand has been offering unique batches annually since 2017.
Kentucky Owl Confiscated is displayed in a tall bottle carrying a sepia-toned label depicting the brand's signature mascot (it was known as "the Wiseman's bourbon") and a woodcut print of the distillery warehouse fire involving said bourbon. The label shares that it is distilled in Kentucky but is bottled by Kentucky Owl, LLC of Lacassine, Louisiana. The brand was purchased by Stoli Group who has further indicated plans to open a new distillery under the Kentucky Owl name.
On our trips to Bardstown Bourbon Company, the bottles were present in the gift shop and included in some signage of the brands produced by BBC. There is no indication of the mash bill and the final product has been bottled at 96.4 proof.
Eye: Copper in color with medium legs displayed in the Glencairn glass.
Nose: Sweet apple cobbler with cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. The nose is quite good and is very inviting. A couple of drops of water bring vanilla and caramel forward.
Palate: Red Delicious apple and cinnamon red hots at first, followed by sweet vanilla bean and oak char. A couple of drops of water really washes away much of the fruitier flavors leaving only vanilla, oak, and spice along with a thinner mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium-long in length with a dry, oak and spice-laden finish balanced with vanilla sweetness.
Overall: This is a bourbon I'd love to know more about. While enjoyable in its own right, I'm always interested in what exactly is in the glass, including the mash bill and the age. When shared with friends and family at a recent gathering, some were wondering if this was a higher-rye bourbon or even higher proof due to its spice and slight heat.
In summary, this was pretty enjoyable, though again, I'd love to know more about its contents. From the overall profile, this feels like an older bourbon - perhaps 6 years, as the nose and flavors were well-developed. I also feel confident in Steve Nally and the team at Bardstown Bourbon Company to help firms bring fine products to the marketplace.