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Stoli Group USA Maps Plans To Invest $150 Million In Kentucky Distillery

September 29, 2017

Stoli Group USA is making plans to pour $150 million into a new distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Through its parent company SPI Group, Stoli Group has received preliminary approval for up to $2 million in tax incentives “to establish a distillery, rickhouses, visitor’s center and other related facilities for the production of Bourbon,” according to documents from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority. While the documents don’t disclose what might be produced at the facility, SPI’s proposal was made under the subsidiary Strigiformes LLC, referring to the biological order for owls. Stoli Group acquired the Kentucky Owl whiskey brand earlier this year.

Founded in 1879, Kentucky Owl eventually fell prey to Prohibition but was revived in 2007 by Dixon Dedman, great-great grandson of founder Charles Mortimer Dedman, along with California winemakers Mark and Sherri Carter. The first expression, the 59.2%-abv Kentucky Owl Batch #1, was released in 2014. Sourced from unnamed third-party distilleries, the brand has developed a cult-like following. It currently retails at $200 a 750-ml. for the flagship Bourbon and $130 for a new rye expression, but is priced far higher on the secondary market.

Initially Kentucky Owl was a Kentucky-only brand, but earlier this month it launched the first batch to be sold outside its home state, the 59%-abv Kentucky Owl Batch #7. The 2,535-bottle release, which is blended from whiskies older than 13 years and between eight and nine years, has been distributed in California, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, Tennessee and Texas. The brand’s other label, the 55.3%-abv Kentucky Owl Rye, is an 11-year old whiskey that’s currently rolling out in 25 states. Needless to say, the Bourbon’s allocations are tight. Just 100 bottles of Batch #7 were made available in New York, for example, and pre-orders had reached 468 at press time.

While the specifics of this project aren’t yet clear, the original Kentucky Owl distillery site is on property that’s still owned by the Dedman family. The distillery’s only remaining vestige is the foundation of a rick house, upon which the family built a cabin several decades ago. “For there to be another Kentucky Owl distillery would be a dream come true for me,” Dedman recently told SND.

“We’re going to continue what Dixon has created, which is a limited-quantity, high-end Bourbon. The core Kentucky Owl will not become a mass brand,” Stoli Group USA’s president and CEO Patrick Piana told SND earlier this year. “But what we also want to do is bring to U.S. retailers and consumers, who are looking for new Bourbons, other expressions of Kentucky Owl. Dixon is currently working on that. We’re fully dedicated to supporting the development of the brand, knowing that it will take time.” —Shane English

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