Spirits & Liqueurs Bourbon

Kentucky Owl Confiscated Bourbon Review

This no-age-statement bottle is pricey but terrific for sipping or mixing.

Kentucky Owl Confiscated Bourbon bottle
Image:

Liquor.com / Laura Sant

liquor.com rating:
4.5

Kentucky Owl Confiscated Bourbon is a pricey bottle shrouded in mystery. But while the lack of information about its origins might dissuade some hardcore bourbon fans, it’s undeniably an excellent whiskey, almost perfectly balanced, with a sweetness anchored by enough dry oak and spice to please fans of both styles.

Fast Facts

Classification Kentucky straight bourbon

Company Stoli Group

Distillery unknown (the whiskey is sourced from an undisclosed distillery or distilleries in Kentucky)

Cask new charred American oak 

Still Type unknown

Released 2019

Proof 96.4 (48.2% ABV)

Aged no age statement

MSRP $125

Pros
  • This is a beautifully balanced bourbon—bold but not too bold, with a nice mix of sweet and dry flavors on the palate throughout.

  • It’s gentle enough to sip but bold enough to stand up to ice or water, and exceedingly mixable as well—try it in a classic whiskey cocktail like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan.

  • The bottle is very attractive, worthy of display on any back bar.

Cons
  • For a sourced whiskey with no age statement, Confiscated is very pricey.

Tasting Notes

Color: Bright orange copper 

Nose: Very elegant and well-balanced, with notes of orange peel, burnt caramel, leather, and oak

Palate: Vanilla custard, caramel, a hint of citrus, and prominent but gentle oak with mild spice

Finish: Dry and just a little bitter, with a fair amount of spice that dissipates quickly, leaving a sweet, brown sugar-and-cinnamon taste at the back of the throat

Our Review

Although Kentucky Owl’s roots go back to 1879, the modern-day company dates to 2014, when Dixon Dedman, the great-great grandson of founder C.M. Dedman, relaunched the brand. Its first several releases were minuscule in number, bottled at cask strength, and differed significantly from one batch to the next. But in 2019, the brand stepped up its offerings with its first nationwide release, Confiscated.

The company gained notoriety upon its relaunch for two reasons: Its whiskeys were very expensive, and they were very good. Confiscated is, at $125, more affordable than Kentucky Owl’s flagship bourbons and ryes, which cost $175. And like its sibling whiskeys, it really is excellent, both for sipping or mixing. It’s generally not recommended to use a $100-plus spirit in cocktails, but if you’re so inclined, Confiscated makes a delicious Old Fashioned or Manhattan. It’s almost perfectly balanced, with a sweetness anchored by enough dry oak and spice to please fans of both styles.

The big issue with Confiscated isn’t how it tastes, but the $125 price tag for a bourbon shrouded in secrecy. We have no clue where in Kentucky it’s currently produced (a Kentucky Owl distillery is reportedly in the works), nor do we know its age or any details about the mashbill. Hardcore American whiskey fans—the kind who would spend upward of $100 a bottle—care passionately about the details of what’s in the bottle, and Kentucky Owl’s lack of transparency has caused more than a little grumbling in the bourbon community.

That said, don’t let the absence of information dissuade you from giving Confiscated a try. Wherever it’s from and however it’s made and aged, it’s a terrific bourbon. But it would be even more satisfying to know about what’s in the glass.

Interesting Fact

The Confiscated name refers to whiskey from the original Kentucky Owl distillery, which was seized by the government in 1916, shortly before Prohibition became the law of the land. The confiscated whiskey was destroyed in a warehouse fire shortly after, and owner C.M. Dedman was never reimbursed for it, precipitating Kentucky Owl’s demise.

The Bottom Line

Confiscated is an excellent bourbon, but the lack of all but the most basic details about what’s actually in the bottle can be frustrating to the type of consumer who will spend big bucks on a bottle.