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Stoli owner moves into American whiskey

Stolichnaya Vodka parent company SPI Group has made its debut in the American whiskey category after acquiring Kentucky Owl Bourbon.

SPI Group has acquired Kentucky Owl Bourbon

The news comes three months after the firm’s CEO Dmitry Efimov told The Spirits Business that SPI Group would “like a whisky, whether that’s Scotch or American”.

Kentucky Owl Bourbon, bought by SPI from Dixon Dedman and his associates for an undisclosed sum, is described as a “pre-Prohibition era brand”.

The Bourbon was produced by Charles Mortimer Dedman 1916 until authorities confiscated 250,000 gallons of stock due to the rise teetolism ahead of Prohibition. The stock was stored in a Kentucky warehouse, which was burned to the ground in 1919 by a supposed mob boss.

Charles Mortimer Dedman’s great-great-grandson Dixon Dedman teamed up with California winemakers Mark and Sherri Carter to relaunch Kentucky Owl as a small-batch brand in 2008.

SPI’s subsidiary Stoli Group USA will take over national distribution, sales and marketing of the brand with immediate effect and will strategise its global roll out. Stoli will initially focus on expanding Kentucky Owl’s presence in southern US states.

“When we began considering American whiskies, we were attracted to Kentucky Owl because of its complex, yet very smooth taste profile,” said Efimov.

“Upon sitting down with the owners and hearing the story, we became really enthusiastic about revitalising the brand and concluded that this would be the Bourbon to anchor a whiskey line for SPI. Our USA team is poised to bring this to market.”

Dixon Dedman will “continue to play a critical role” as Kentucky Owl is introduced in more markets nationwide and will also act as its global brand ambassador.

“Kentucky Owl is a great next step for our portfolio of premium and luxury brands,” said Patrick Piana, president of Stoli Group USA. “Bourbons have been experiencing impressive growth recently and we see a strong opportunity in the super-premium sub-category, in particular.

“I’m looking forward to working together with Dixon Dedman to accelerate the trusted product his family built into the cult Bourbon brand for the North American brown spirits consumer.”

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