Looking for Robb Report UK? Click here to visit our UK site.

Taste Test: This Upstart Blended Bourbon Can Compete With Whiskeys Triple the Price

The blend spends some time in a new set of charred oak barrels.

2XO The Innkeeper's Blend Brooke Forte

Some people peak early in their careers, never to repeat the pinnacle of success they achieved early on. Others move onto bigger and better things—or at least comparable and more value-oriented things. Such is case with Dixon Dedman’s new 2XO whiskey brand, which just released a $100 bourbon that holds its own against much more expensive bottles.

Dedman was the cofounder and master blender of the Kentucky Owl whiskey brand, which is known for releasing really expensive limited-edition (and often quite good) bottles of bourbon and rye. Stoli Group acquired the brand in 2017, and Dedman left in 2021 to try something new, which turned out to be 2XO Kentucky Straight Bourbon. The name 2XO means “two times oak,” referring to the fact that the whiskeys are blends that have been re-barreled into new charred oak for a finishing period. This is a secondary maturation process that greatly affects the flavor of whiskey, as evidenced by releases such as Woodford Reserve Double Oaked or Kentucky Peerless Double Oak. Essentially, putting aged whiskey into a new charred oak barrel after initial maturation gives it an extra boost of flavor—something that, admittedly, is not appealing to everyone.

Indeed, the flavor profile of this new whiskey, the Innkeeper’s Blend (a tribute to Dedman’s family’s history in hospitality), is strong and assertive. The blend is comprised of two sourced Kentucky bourbons: one with a high rye mashbill (35 percent), the other with a lower rye mashbill (16 to 18 percent). Dedman takes the high rye bourbon, aged for at least six years, and finishes it both char #3 and #4 barrels for at least six months, giving him four whiskeys to blend—high rye, low rye, and two finished high rye bourbons.

It’s worth saying again (and this might sound pejorative, but it’s not): This whiskey is not for everyone. The palate is full of oaky char, which some whiskey fans love and others shy away from. That is followed by notes of ripe plum, cooked apple, and burnt brown sugar. On the finish there’s a slight tannic bitterness, some anise, flambéed pear, and cherry. I found that the whiskey steadily grows on you as you sip, and by the time my sample was done I wished I had more to sit with.

One can’t help but compare 2XO to Dedman’s former whiskey brand. Those expressions were also sourced and blended and immediately hit the secondary market selling for triple or quadruple their SRPs. There is only one person who can decide whether paying $400 for a bottle of bourbon without a distillery to call home is worth it—and that person is you. But the Innkeeper’s Blend is as good as some recent Kentucky Owl releases I’ve tried and is selling for just slightly above its $100 asking price at ReserveBar . . . for now, anyway. If you know, you know. Give this whiskey a try and see for yourself if this stands up to Dedman’s previous work, or consider it on its own. And there’s more to come from 2XO, with the new Oak Series and single barrel Gem of Kentucky releases on the way.

Score: 88

  • 100: Worth trading your first born for.
  • 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet.
  • 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram. 
  • 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market.
  • 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable.
  • Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this.

Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back for his latest review.

More Spirits