Kentucky Owl Dry State

There are many ways to celebrate the 100th year passing since Prohibition was repealed.  Hell, if you ask me, one of the best ways is to enjoy some delicious bourbon!  You could also spend $1000 (SRP) on a bottle of Kentucky Owl Dry State if you’d like.  Is $1000 too much for for a bottle of bourbon?  Only you can decide that for yourself, but I’ll let you know what I think of this product. Let’s go!

photo: Limestone Branch


John H.




December 3rd, 2020

Kentucky Owl has carved out a name for itself as a luxury brand of whiskey since it’s first releases.  The first few bourbon releases followed by rye batch #1 were all so well-received that an immediate cult following ensued.  In fact, there was a time that the Kentucky Owl products were among the hardest to find whiskeys on the open market.

Capitalizing on a stash of well-aged barrels as much as the palate of brand Founder Dixon Dedman, Kentucky Owl released a product in commemoration of the repeal of Prohibition: Kentucky Owl Dry State.  Additionally, the brand is using proceeds from the release to support restaurants and bars across the United States.  While it may be easy to scoff at the $1000 SRP, it’s good to see some of those dollars being put to use to help our friends and family in the spirits industry.

Kentucky Owl Dry State’s release during this centennial anniversary of Prohibition is a reflection on our past, but also an opportunity to support the hardworking men and women affected by the closing of bars and restaurants across the country

-Dixon Dedman

In terms of the liquid, here, this is a blend of 12 to 17 year Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey and it’s proofed to 50% ABV (100 proof).  There is no mention of the origin of the whiskey.

Without further ado, here are my tasting notes and final thoughts on the Kentucky Owl Dry State:

Tasting Notes…

Nose – Toasty oak and caramel lean forward out of the glass. Some light brown sugar. There’s a hint of brightness that shows up as a sweet caramel corn. Noticeably mature with an oakiness I like.

Taste – This starts off acting like it’ll bring in some fruit, but it’s a liar. The indistinct fruit (reminds me of white fruits or a touch of berry) shifts from being a canned fruit cocktail syrup into being a golden syrup…or even dark corn syrup, then some light toffee. It’s balanced nicely between the darker spicier notes that mingle with more of the bakery sweets as this moves across the palate.  It isn’t a one-note show, that’s for certain.

Finish – Long and rich.  Slightly syrup-like in the coating and it really clings for a prominent finish. This is where this pour shows off the most character. Brown butter, heavy caramel, good solid oak structure and brown spice.  The fruit makes a brief appearance again, but it swirls right back into the brown butter and rich darker notes.  

Bourbon Finder Grade: B

Final thoughts…

This is a really nicely-blended product. It shows off maturity with an oak background that holds the pour together without being overpowering. There’s a strong sweet presence to round things out, and it drinks well at it’s proof.  There are times when it just seems like a few proof points are needed to bring the finish of a whiskey through to the next level, but this does everything I think it needs to right at an even 100 proof.

The depth of flavor here is solid, and it shows off a really nice finish; although it’s a nice bourbon, it isn’t leaving a deeply-etched impression on me. I’m glad to have tried this one but I can’t see myself reaching for it time and time again.

Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

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