In the 19th century the Dedman family entered the Bourbon business in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The C.M. Dedman Distillery, DSP 16, 8th District, was not a large distillery. The Mida’s Financial Index of 1909 gave the distillery an “F” ranking with a value of $10,000-$15,000. The flagship brand from the distillery was Kentucky Owl. The Beaumont Inn dates back to the 1840s and has been a school for young ladies and a college. In 1917, it was purchased by Glave Goddard and his wife Annie Bell and converted to an Inn. Their daughter Pauline Goddard Dedman followed her mother as Innkeeper and the Dedman family has operated the Beaumont Inn since that time.
The Inn is steeped in history with many artifacts such as books, photographs and documents from its days as a school. The front desk is located in the old school library and the shelves are still filled with the books used at the school. The rooms are decorated with many old photographs and portraits from the family and probably more than a few former students and teachers. The gift shop is well stocked and has many items produced by local craftsmen and artists. The building is smoke free, but there are ample places outside of the building to sit and enjoy a pipe or a cigar. The extensive grounds have a walking path for those wishing a little exercise as well as a swimming pool and shuffleboard.
Early in the 21st century Harrodsburg became “moist” allowing the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants. Dixon Dedman quickly moved to build The Old Owl Tavern and then a smaller bar, The Owl’s Nest, at the Beaumont Inn. About the same time he decided to revive the family’s old Bourbon brand, Kentucky Owl. Both bars are well decorated and serve food as well as alcohol. The Bourbon selection is excellent and of course you can get a couple of vintages of Kentucky Owl. They serve generous pours and if you ask for one, they will use a Glencairn whiskey glass for your pour. They told me the Glencairn glass was the standard glass for a whiskey served neat, but they began to disappear so now they only use the whiskey glasses on the high end pours unless you ask for one. Prices are very reasonable.
The service is excellent and very knowledgeable. Dixon Dedman often leads private tastings and has a beautiful room set up for such events. The long room where he hosts these tastings looks to be able to hold about 20 people comfortably. They have a restaurant with a southern themed menu and the fried chicken and country ham dinner is exceptionally good. For those wishing to stick to the bar, I do recommend that you order the cheese tray to pair with your whiskey. Sit at the bar and enjoy the cheese, country ham and your favorite Bourbon or rye.
I would give the Beaumont Inn 3 points for heritage and atmosphere. I would give another 3 points for selection and pours. Another 2 points for an educated and friendly staff and the use of whiskey glasses on neat pours. They don’t advertise flights on the menu but they do allow customers to put together their own flights so that is worth another point. I would give them 9 points total. It is a great place to go and to enjoy a drink and take in the heritage.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller