If there’s any silver lining to the pandemic, it has got to be the increased appreciation for the golden brown liquid: bourbon whiskey. Like its counterpart, Scotch whisky, interest in bourbon has grown steadily over the years and brands are sizing the opportunity to introduce themselves to the consumers. One of the brands that have made its foray into Singapore is Kentucky Owl, an American whiskey brand under the Stoli Group. Sought out by whiskey connoisseurs worldwide, the ultra-premium bourbon brand was rejuvenated in 2014 but its roots could be traced back to 1879.
Originally founded by Charles Dedman, Kentucky Owl was known to be the producer of “the wise man’s bourbon” before the distillery closed in 1916 and his death in 1918. During the 1920s, the US underwent a period known as Prohibition, where a nationwide ban on alcoholic beverages was enforced which led to Kentucky Owl losing all of its remaining stocks of bourbon to the government as it was sized. The warehouse that held the whiskey, close to 250,000 gallons, was mysteriously burned down in 1923 and that spelt the end of the Kentucky Owl.
In 2014, Charles Dedman’s great great-grandson Dixon Dedman revived the brand and produced its first batch of bourbon called “Batch 1”, which took him six years to create. The process involved tasting several samples from different barrels across Kentucky and then blending them to concoct the desired flavour profile. The final blend is bottled at barrel proof, uncut and unfiltered.
For the launch in Singapore, Kentucky Owl will showcase the Kentucky Owl Bourbon Batch 11 from the brand’s annual signature, barrel proof whiskey series. A single batch is produced each year for the global market and once they are sold, it is no longer available. Thus, each batch is eagerly anticipated by collectors and connoisseurs alike. “Boasting notes of bright citrus, velvety dark chocolate and sticky toffee, Batch 11 offers a welcome mélange of mature oak, allspice, honeyed bread, and deep cinnamon palette with a toasted oak, sultana, peppercorn, and fresh thyme long finish.”
Alongside the Bourbon Batch 11 are three other expressions launched in Singapore: Kentucky Owl The Wiseman Bourbon, Kentucky Owl The Wiseman Rye and Kentucky Owl St. Patrick’s Limited Edition Bourbon Whiskey. The Wiseman Bourbon is the first whiskey released under Master Distiller John Rhea and consists of a blend of 4-year-old wheat and high-rye bourbons from Kentucky Owl and two Kentucky-sourced bourbons aged 5.5 and 8.5 years old. The expression opens up with a caramel flavour followed by notes of allspice, citrus fruit and a nudge of oak.
For The Wiseman Rye, it is a straight rye whiskey. Launched in April this year, the whiskey is part of the Wiseman series and has been listed among Whisky Advocate’s Top 20 and Bourbon Review’s Top 10 whiskeys of the year. “Providing a rich and spicy nose with hints of fresh rye bread and slight hints of sweet caramel and cinnamon, this whiskey’s spicy character instantly fills the mouth with rich rye flavour with a long finish that starts as fresh rye bread, slowly moves towards buttered cinnamon toast and ends with a hint of English walnut.”
Lastly, the St. Patrick’s Limited Edition Bourbon Whiskey is Rhea’s third release with the Kentucky Owl. He collaborated with Louise McGuane, who is attributed to reviving the tradition of Irish whiskey bonding, to create this special blend. The whiskey is a celebration of the deep relationship that connects Irish and Kentucky whiskey-making. Creating this exquisite blend includes blind-tasting different cask samples and then having them blended to the desired flavour profile. The result, “long notes of caramel, butterscotch and frosted cinnamon roll, with hints of chocolate, orange, candy floss and some citrus peel”.
Savour the best of what Kentucky Owl has to offer now at dining and drinking establishments across Singapore starting in November 2022.
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