Kentucky Owl bourbon | Courtesy of Kentucky Owl

By Janet Patton | Lexington Herald-Leader

Stoli Group plans to build a $150 million distillery in Bardstown, Ky., apparently to make Kentucky Owl bourbon.

According to documents released Thursday by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, Strigiformes LLC, a subsidiary of SPI Group, the parent of Stolichnaya Vodka, “is considering property in Bardstown to establish a distillery, rickhouses, visitor’s center and other related facilities for the production of bourbon.”

In January, SPI Group purchased Kentucky Owl Bourbon for an undisclosed amount, giving the company its first presence in American whiskey. Besides Stoli Vodka, SPI also owns Bayou Rum, KAH tequila and Elit Vodka.

The Kentucky Owl brand was revived in 2014 by the Dedman family of Mercer County, owners of the historic Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg. Dixon Dedman’s great-great-grandfather produced the bourbon from 1879 to Prohibition. The new version, which was made from sourced whiskeys selected by Dedman, was critically acclaimed and was honored by Garden & Gun magazine with a Made in the South Award in the drinks category.

Kentucky Owl was revived by Dixon Dedman and is now owned by Stoli Group. | Courtesy of Kentucky Owl

Dixon Dedman could not be reached immediately for comment.

This year’s release of the super-premium Kentucky Owl bourbon and a rye will be available nationally, thanks to distribution from SPI.

“When we began considering American whiskeys, we were attracted to Kentucky Owl because of its complex yet very smooth taste profile,” said Dmitry Efimov, CEO of SPI Group, in a news release in January.

“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 SPI. Our USA team is poised to bring this to market.”

Efimov is the authorized representative for the newly registered Strigiformes, which is the taxonomy for owls.

According to the KEDFA document, SPI plans to build a new facility, with an investment of $2.75 million for land, $115.6 million for buildings and improvements, $26.4 million for equipment, and $5 million for other start-up costs.

The total investment for the project would be $149,750,000; KEDFA plans to approve up to $2 million in tax incentives for the project, which would create 77 new jobs with an average hourly wage of $25 including employee benefits.

This is at least the third new distillery in Bardstown in as many years following the building of Bardstown Bourbon Company, which is already expanding, and Lux Row, which is under construction.

According to the KEDFA report, SPI is an independent company headquartered in Luxembourg with production facilities in the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Latvia and Spain. “The group’s mission is to build a portfolio of select premium drink brands by controlling and perfecting every stage of the process, from cultivation to distribution,” the report said.

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