Kentucky Owl Bourbon and its parent company Stoli Group have announced the addition of John Rhea as Master Blender, Kentucky Owl®. In this role, Rhea will use his vast knowledge and expertise to choose the best conditions for product consistency and excellence, as well as innovate new blends to expand the product offering.
John Rhea retired as Chief Operating Officer from Four Roses Distillery in 2016 after an illustrious 40 year career. Rhea started his career at the company just three days after graduating from college and never left until his retirement. He also served 17 of those years on the Kentucky Distillers’ Association Board of Directors.
“An exceptional bourbon and rye house is deserving of the best master blender in the industry. To match the quality of product with the skill required to uphold the legacy, we tapped legendary John Rhea,” commented Damian McKinney, Global CEO of Stoli Group. “We are thrilled to have a professional of his caliber join us as we protect and expand the Kentucky Owl bourbon and rye recipes.”
Renderings of the Future Kentucky Owl Park
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Rhea dedicated his career to the Four Roses Distillery where he joined as a supervisor and parted as Chief Operating Officer. During his long tenure, his responsibilities included quality control, maturate, evaluation and product blending. Educated as an engineer with an MBA, Rhea is fascinated by the intersection of process and business. At the same time, as a blender, he recognizes the beauty and skill of artful blending. Inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2016, Rhea has received numerous accolades for this commitment to the industry. Having served as Chairman of the Kentucky Distiller’s Association Board, Rhea was honored with lifetime membership, one of only five such memberships in the 130+year old history.
“I found the one thing that would bring me out of retirement… the opportunity to serve as a steward to Kentucky Owl bourbon and rye,” commented John Rhea, Kentucky Owl, Master Blender. ”I have long admired the Kentucky Owl product line up and I am thrilled to have this opportunity.”
Kentucky Owl Bourbon was founded in 1879 by C.M. Dedman. Like many brands it went dark in 1916 around the time of Prohibition. Several generations later the brand still sat dormant until fifth generation Dixon Dedman decided the time was right to resurrect the family’s name in bourbon. In 2017 Dedman sold the brand to Stoli Group. In November of the same year Stoli broke ground on a $150 million Walt Disney like distillery project in Bardstown, Kentucky. The site has sat mainly dormant for several years but that may soon change.
Other notable Stoli brands include Stoli® Vodka, Elit™ Vodka, Bayou® Rum, Villa One™, Gator Bite™ Rum Liquers, Cenote™ Tequila, Kah™ Tequila and Se Busca™ Mezcal. Headquartered in Luxembourg, Stoli has production facilities in Russia, Latvia, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, and the United States.
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