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We love history. Humans, I mean. We like it. There are books, films, plays, works of art, and entire colleges dedicated to studying it and sharing it with humanity. Such love extends back to ancient times, with cultures telling the stories of their history, such as in the Iliad and the Odyssey. One of the reasons we do this is because history gives us the chance to see the whole story of a person. We don’t know how we will die or what will happen to us tomorrow, but for historical figures, we can see the full arc of their lives. It’s scary, inspiring, joyful, saddening, all because we see ourselves reflected in the experiences of others, wondering if our story will be the same.
The history of the bourbon industry is no exception, with perhaps a little less gravity than the Greek poems. Today I want to talk about Mary Dowling, the “Mother of Bourbon”. “Long obscured by the mists of time, Mary Dowling’s story is one of the most inspiring and compelling in the history of whiskey making,” said Kaveh Zamanian, founder of Rabbit Hole Distillery and co-founder of the new company: Mary Dowling Whiskey Company.
Born in 1959 in Bourbon County,he is from Kentucky married into whiskey, her husband being a cooper (cask maker) and established distiller. By the mid-1880s, she and her husband owned three distilleries. Family businesses thrived until 1920, when Prohibition hit. Dowling turned to smuggling, which eventually led to criminal charges and then a conviction of her family members. It changed direction and moved its entire distilling business to Juarez, Mexico, which survived until the 1970salthough Dowling died in 1930, just before Prohibition ended.
The Mary Dowling brand, in Augustreleased the first two whiskeys in its range: the Mary Dowling Toasted Double Oak Barrel and the Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel, both of which I would describe as “experimental” whiskeys, one being a finished bourbon and the other using two separate toasted oak barrels to age the product. According to Mr. Zamanian, “We wanted to create a whiskey to honor its extraordinary character, celebrate its heritage and its iconic distillery, Waterfill & Frazier. We’re thrilled to finally share two original expressions, meant to be savored while toasting the unstoppable spirit of Mary Dowling.
With a high rye mash bill, the Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel I review here can be expected spicy, with some pepper, cloves, anise, allspice and other spices, while the tequila finish should add more vanilla, honey, and citrus flavors to counterbalance the spice.
Tasting notes: Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel Fini Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Vital Statistics: No age declaration (NAS). High rye mash bill. Finished in Tequila barrels. 93 proof (46.5% ABV). $75/750ml.
Appearance: A tangerine slightly tinged with yellow.
Nose: Vanilla and tobacco leaf float among cedar planks and allspice.
Palace: Fresh orange citrus is supported by warm honey and cinnamon. Toasted almonds blend with rich oak, leading to a spicy bite and a finish of eucalyptus and ginger snaps.