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Whiskey Review: Kentucky Owl Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey St. Patrick’s Edition

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Kentucky Owl. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, Kentucky Owl has released a new collaboration, the Kentucky Owl Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey St. Patrick’s Edition. Kentucky Owl was founded in 1879, but closed during Prohibition. The producer was revived in 2014 by a descendant of the original owner and is now owned by the Stoli Group (which in turn is owned by Russian businessman Yuri Shefler, despite legal disputes with the Russian government).

Kentucky Owl Master Blender, John Rhea, blended this whiskey with Irish Whiskey Bonder, Louise McGuane. Rhea became Kentucky Owl’s Master Blender in 2021, after serving in long-serving roles at Four Roses and on the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Board of Directors. McGuane is known in Ireland for reviving the art of Irish whiskey binding, which involves buying newly distilled whiskeys in bulk from distilleries to age, blend and release.

According to the producer’s website, the Kentucky Owl Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey St. Patrick’s Edition is a blend of Kentucky Straight Bourbons aged four to eight years (there seem to be discrepancies in other past posts on the age range ). Rhea and McGuane blind tasted casks and blends to come up with the final version, creating a blended Irish whiskey-style Kentucky bourbon.

According to the press release, the goal was to create a bold, fruity whiskey in keeping with Kentucky Owl’s signature style. The tasting note mentions that rye was included to add spice and fruit, and wheat was included to add sweetness and citrus notes. Personally, I found the vanilla note from barrel aging to be dominant, not the fruit or chocolate flavors mentioned in the official tasting note.

Kentucky Owl Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey St. Patrick’s Edition (image via Suzanne Bayard)

Tasting notes: Kentucky Owl Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey St. Patrick’s Edition

Vital Stats: Blend of 4-8 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbons, aged in new white oak barrels, 50% ABV, mash bill: includes rye and wheat, SRP $135/750ml bottle.

Appearance: This whiskey has a bold yellow-orange color with mahogany undertones.

Nose: This opens with zesty notes of fresh vanilla beans and golden tobacco. There’s a slight hint of acetone like nail polish remover or fresh paint that isn’t overwhelming, but might not appeal to everyone. I thought it added a nice interest. The vanilla note is strong, leading to notes like sweet corn, toasted white bread and musk.

Palace: The heavy vanilla aroma is evident on the palate, with notes of almond croissants, honey and daisies. It is smooth and oily with a sweet vanilla finish and a lingering warm sensation. The vanilla note is a little overwhelming, bordering on sickening when neat. On ice it takes on a more lemony impression, with hints of fresh lemon zest and sandalwood, although this also accentuates the tannins. My preference was cleanliness, but flexibility was a positive. I liked the packaging: the label stands out with a bit of retro St Patty flair offset by the auburn color of the whiskey, and on closer inspection it’s quite detailed and lovely. Sure, it’s green, but it’s not hokey in person.