You've probably heard of or seen this brand by now. 2XO took the whiskey world by storm first with the Phoenix Blend and now "The Innkeeper's Blend" - an homage to Dixon Dedman's family history in the hospitality industry. I'll admit this one really wasn't on my radar for a while. It wasn't until my good friend Brett told me we were going to be getting on an Instagram Live with Dixon, that I finally pulled the trigger on the $100 bottle.
Once I dove in... There was no more doubt in my mind. I've made it through about half my bottle of this now at time of writing. I know I'm pretty late to the party here but wanted to add another data point for you, oh studious whiskey enthusiast. If you're not familiar with Dixon's backstory, let me shine some light under that rock for you.
Dixon Dedman is a 41-year-old blender who has quickly established himself as one of the most prolific American whiskey blenders in the industry known for his high-proof, robust Kentucky Owl bourbon and rye blends. He grew up on the whiskey trail infusing the learnings from industry legends with his culinary expertise from running his previously owned James Beard award winning Beaumont Inn. His credentials are unsurpassed among high-end whisky retailers, writers, and collectors. He’s a foodie, a wine connoisseur, runs marathons, and is a sneakerhead who connects with a broad range of drinkers, from millennials to boomers.
If you don't think Dixon's reputation precedes him, consider this story from one of my last trips to Louisville: I was sitting down having a few drinks with Mark Carter and as we meandered through stories of time and places... Somehow half the stories either started or ended with Dixon being involved. Both of those fine gentlemen's energies are so contagious and I loved to hear about their friendship through the years. Now let's dive in on the whiskey shall we? I'll try to keep in mind some of my previous experiences as I go to give this a rating, but the tasting notes are all live.
Company on Label: Prestige Beverage Group
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed proportions of high rye (35%) and low rye (16-18%) bourbon mash bills (min 51% corn);
Further identification: 2XO is a play on the words "two times oak", which is a description on how this blend is finished in a second barrel
Nose: Boom. Funky molasses hits with major heft from first inhale. Heavy caramel, creamed corn and waves of barrel funk bombard the senses. This is a bold, oak bomb on the nose and it is not shy about it. Macerated grape skins, plum and heavy char catapult through me. I'm a little hung up on the oak now, so I'm going to jump into a sip to see if we can't get free from this snag.
Returning from a sip I find significantly more barrel funk and a blinding brightness that makes my nose tingle. Black pepper, brown sugar and more of the underlying molasses develop nicely after a rest. Woah, suddenly late in the glass I smell a wonderful parallel to the butterscotch notes that I usually find on the Weller wheated bourbon profile. The empty glass smells of steamed corn and seashells.
Palate: Mmm. Mascarpone cream and cherry skins jump out at me first. The mouth coating is sweet like the remnants of a sip of an old fashioned. There's a touch of smoke as if someone were smoking a cigar nearby. Another sip layers in raspberry, red velvet cake, and a slightly tannic linger like a good Cabernet Sauvignon will deliver. As the glass weathers on I find things slowly calming towards a creamy buttercream frosting profile. Slowly the whiskey bounces between taste buds and fully commits to a wonderful array of stone fruit and bakery delights. My last sip is loaded with sugary sour patch kids. Yum!
TL;DR: Sweet, creamy oak bomb
This just grows and grows with subsequent sips. It does everything that a Kentucky bourbon should without being too plain. While it didn't really deliver any of my fun kind of "flyer" notes, or elicit any specific memories, it is definitely a solid blend.