Kentucky Owl was founded in 1879 by a local pharmacist, Charles Mortimer Dedman. He and his new bride received a large parcel of land on the banks of the Kentucky River as a wedding gift from his adopted father, a town judge. After running it by his wife, he decided to build the C.M. Dedman Distillery. For decades, it produced "The Wise Man's Bourbon" under Distilled Spirits Plant Designation "No. 16," one of Kentucky's original distilleries and part of a booming industry.