Review: 2XO The Kiawah Blend

Review: 2XO The Kiawah Blend

Dixon Dedman and his 2XO Icon Series have rapidly become one of those must-watch release stories since launching in 2023. Drinkhacker has kept studious pace from the get-go with each of their three limited release blends to date: The Pheonix Blend, The Innkeeper’s Blend, and The Tribute Blend. The backstory and profile of this new venture has been covered in previous reviews, so we’ll just dive into the latest and greatest that brings us here today.

With three noteworthy releases in the cap already, 2XO continues to raise its own bar. So with grand expectations, we dip into the latest Kiawah Blend release, whose moniker is a nod to Dedman’s family’s long-standing island retreat in South Carolina. A word from 2XO on what to expect:

The Kiawah Blend is comprised of two proprietary mash bills, a high rye 35% bourbon mash bill and a moderate rye 18% bourbon mash bill. Dixon double barrels the high rye 35% bourbon mash bill into new charred oak barrels, both #3 and #4 char levels, for 9 months to a year. The double-barreled high rye mash bill makes up 60% of The Kiawah Blend, and that additional oak interaction builds the sweetness to balance out the spice from the rye in the mash bills.

Let’s start the show.

The nose is quite the festival. Licorice leads the olfactory parade, jauntily followed by deep citrus and Port riding on tingly spice and saucy barbecue smoke.  I kept diving back on the nose for that last note in particular – indeed, it felt like the glass walked in from minding the grill on the patio with the smoke lingering on its apron. And if that weren’t enough, vanilla cream trails in right behind. Really enticing introduction.

Alas, the palate doesn’t quite follow the display of the nose; in fairness, it’s quite an elaborate opening number (perhaps they preemptively outdid themselves). Initially disappointing in comparison, with repeat sips, you are treated to a more refined presentation of the same eclectic range of notes. True to its Port-manteau and signature double-oaking process, that extra bite of oakiness is ever present and feels intentional rather than “over-oaked.” For those that lean more bitter and savory than sweet in their bourbons, this is a very appealing accent when done right. A notched down undertone of barbecue smokiness is still there in the mix with big, bright white pepper and mint spice, mellow malted vanilla cream, and Werther’s caramels for a backline chorus of complex sweetness that is both punchy and soothing. The finish can’t let go of that extra oakiness but illuminates buttery cereal notes on the fade-out.

This won’t be your everyday sipper given its outsized personality, but it is a whiskey that keeps things interesting. I first came across Kiawah Blend as part of a tasting event that included very respectable staples and local craft. This was the clear standout for a few of us that prefer more engaging pours. Another well-crafted release from Dixon Dedman. We eagerly await his next episode.

104 proof.


2XO The Kiawah Blend




Monica is an incurable dilettante, who is relentlessly curious about books, brews (the coffee kind) and bourbons.

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