Stoli Group USA is entering the whiskey category with the acquisition of cult whiskey brand Kentucky Owl. Stoli will take over the national distribution, sales and marketing, and begin a global rollout for the brand, effective immediately.
Kentucky Owl was founded in 1879 by Charles Mortimer Dedman. He ran it until 1916, i.e. the early days of Prohibition. Though it wasn't legally resurrected until 2008, when Dixon Dedman, Charles' great-great grandson, partnered with California winemakers Mark and Sherri Carter to Kentucky Owl 2.0. Selling for nearly $200 in some cases, Kentucky Owl has become somewhat of a legend in Kentucky - the only state where it is sold.
The small batch bourbon is made by mingling sourced, aged stock poured back into new charred barrels and aged further, as described on the company's website. Six batches have been released so far.
"When we began considering American whiskies, we were attracted to Kentucky Owl because of its complex, yet very smooth taste profile," says SPI Group chief Dmitry Efimov. "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."
Stoli Group will begin by expanding Kentucky Owl's presence in the South and eventually move on to major US cities, per the release. Dixon will stay on at Kentucky Owl as brand ambassador.
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