Stoli Group has gained legendary distiller John Rhea, who will serve as the new Master Blender for the Kentucky Owl American whiskey brand following the recent departure of founder and blender Dixon Dedman.
Rhea will use his vast knowledge and expertise, according to the brand, to choose the best conditions for product consistency and excellence, as well as innovate new blends to expand the product offering.
“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,” Global CEO of Stoli Group Damian McKinney said in a prepared statement. “We are thrilled to have a professional of his caliber join us as we protect and expand the Kentucky Owl bourbon and rye recipes.”
Educated as an engineer with an MBA, Rhea dedicated his career to the Four Roses Distillery where he joined as a supervisor and parted as Chief Operating Officer. His responsibilities included quality control, maturate, evaluation and product 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 a lifetime membership, one of only 5 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,” Rhea said. “I have long admired the Kentucky Owl product line up and I am thrilled to have this opportunity.”