Kentucky Owl

Reviving a Historical Whiskey Brand

Known as “The Wise Man’s Bourbon”, Kentucky Owl’s roots go all the way back to 1879, when Charles Mortimer Dedman opened C.M. Dedman Distillery under bond #16. Kentucky Owl was one of Kentucky’s original Bourbon brands and was enjoyed by many. And then this happened…

Prohibition, inventory confiscation, the mob, and a mysterious (inside job?) warehouse fire brought the brand to an end. Fast-forward to current day — master-blender, and Great-Great Grandson, Dixon Dedman, brought The Wise Man’s Bourbon back to life and created one of the most coveted bourbons of our era. With this success it became clear that the brand needed a more refined and detailed package that captured the legacy and heritage of the Kentucky Owl brand, while at the same time, retained a small batch, craft-distiller aesthetic.

As stewards of this historic brand, our challenge with Kentucky Owl was twofold: first, improve and accentuate every element of the current package, while taking care to maintain core brand equities, and second, expand the Kentucky Owl brand to a new Kentucky Rye Whiskey.

Before + Evolution + Extension to Rye

Each part of the package was reimagined, improved and enhanced to reflect the premium quality of what is in the bottle. With but a few lines of computer set type, detailed hand lettering and illustration make up the majority of the elements on this label, just as it would have been done in the late 1800s.

The custom brand mark, iconic owl illustration, and border system are designed to be the graphic constants of the Kentucky Owl brand. They are the brand identity, and will act as anchors to new elements that might surround them on any future product offerings. Additionally, to more effectively communicate Kentucky Owl’s story and exclusivity, the information was subtly reorganized to highlight the established date, batch and bottle numbers, along with the distillation and bottling location — all important bits of information for collectors and connoisseurs.  

A special shout out and thanks to the attentive folks at Multi-Color Napa’s digital department for allowing us the time, and taking the extra steps necessary to deliver the look and feel that we set out to achieve with this design. The labels are printed on a HP Indigo 6600 digital press, then stamped on a ABG Digicon finishing unit. DeCrevel Die of Napa created the detailed hand sculpted embossing dies for the owl and brand mark, which, along with the texture of the Classic Felt Bright White stock, give the label a lovely tactile quality.

We’re proud to have helped usher in a new era for Kentucky Owl and the Dedman family — we think we’ve achieved the goal of connecting the family’s rich history to the present day needs of a luxury Kentucky Bourbon brand. Check out the Kentucky Owl website to learn more about the brand’s interesting history, and what Al Capone may, or may not, have had to do with it.