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.
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
Proof 96.4 (48.2% ABV)
Aged no age statement
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.
For a sourced whiskey with no age statement, Confiscated is very pricey.
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
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.
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.