Bardstown Bourbon co-founder to oversee Kentucky Owl Distillery, Park development

The original Kentucky Owl Park plan. Click to enlarge


Monday, Oct. 4, 2021 — Louisville Business First reported Monday that David Mandell, co-founder of Bardstown Bourbon Co., has been hired to oversee the development of the Kentucky Owl Distillery and Park, located on 420 acres at the former rock quarry at US62 and KY245.

Stoli announced plans for the distillery and park with great fanfare four years ago. However, the project appeared dormant until Stoli’s announcement Monday that it had hired Mandell to lead the project.

Mandell was instrumental in creating Bardstown Bourbon Co. as a Napa Valley-style distillery destination that includes a full-service bar and restaurant and visitors center. According to Business First, the Bardstown Bourbon Co. operation is one of the largest and most sophisticated distilleries in the U.S., producing custom rye, whiskey and bourbon in partnership with other brands — including Kentucky Owl.


Mandell is chairman of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival Board of Directors and remains a shareholder of the Bardstown Bourbon Co.

Stoli’s vision of Kentucky Owl Park has been described as being the “Disney World of Kentucky Bourbon,” with plans that originally included a convention center with an art gallery and concert venue. Plans also included a train station that would be served by the R.J. Corman Railroad using existing tracks that cross the property.

In a statement released by Stoli Group, Damian McKinney, its Global CEO, called Mandell “a transformational leader in the whiskey industry, and we could not be prouder to have him join the exceptional team we are building at Stoli Group. Mandell is an innovator, trailblazer and entrepreneur with the track record and skillset to bring Kentucky Owl Park to life.”

In the press release, Mandell promised that when completed, “Kentucky Owl Park will be unlike any distillery on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail and will draw visitors from around the nation and the globe.”

Stoli Group purchased Kentucky Owl in 2017. The Kentucky Owl Bourbon brand was revived by Dixon Dedman, the great-great-grandson of Charles Mortimer Dedman, the pharmacist who founded the brand in 1879.

Originally know as “The Wise Man’s Bourbon,” Kentucky Owl was distilled by the family until Prohibition. In 2014, Dedman decided to try his hand at reviving the brand. He spent six years, hand-selecting from the best bourbons and testing various processes to finally create a Kentucky bourbon good enough to continue his great-great-grandfather’s legacy.


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