Mary Dowling is a women of unusual fame in the distilling industry. In the years before Prohibition, she inherited the Dowling Bros. Distillery and the Waterfill and Frazier brand after her father died. It was not usual at that time for a woman to inherit a distillery. Even more unusual was that she decided to run the distillery herself and when Prohibition was passed, she decided that she would take the distillery out of the country and continue to make Waterfill and Frazier Bourbon. She hired a Beam to oversee the dismantling of the distillery in Kentucky, move it to Juarez, Mexico, and the construction of the new distillery. She continued to make Waterfill and Frazier Bourbon in Juarez for many years. The brand was made in Juarez up to 1964 when Bourbon became a product of the United States, when the brand became Waterfill and Frazier whiskey.
I was happy to see that Kaveh Zamanian of Rabbit Hole Distillery, decided to create a whiskey and name it after Mary Dowling. This is a new brand with a long heritage. It is a well-deserved honor for Mary Dowling to have the brand named for her and not just Dowling Bros., the distillery she owned in Kentucky. The folks at Rabbit Hole have released to expressions of finished Bourbon of Mary Dowling whiskey. The first expression is a high rye Bourbon finished in Tequila barrels. I would say that they chose Tequila barrels because of her history of distilling in Juarez, Mexico. I personally don’t like Tequila and have not yet found a spirit finished in Tequila barrels that was drinkable, but I know there are many people out there that love Tequila and will love this whiskey. The second expression is a wheat recipe Bourbon finished in a toasted barrel. Matt and I sat down and tasted these whiskeys and here are our tasting notes.
Mary Dowling Bourbon Finished in Tequila Barrels
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Very strong Tequila and a little oak wood.
- Matt: Vanilla, strawberry, lemon and oak wood.
- Mike: There is an overpowering taste of Tequila with a little vanilla, apple, nutmeg and oak hiding in the background. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the vanilla and apple come forward about a half of a step, but still the Tequila dominates the flavor. Tasted with a pecan and the tequila steps back a couple of steps, allowing the apple and vanilla of the Bourbon to come forward.
- Matt: Vanilla, lemon, and strawberry with a strong Tequila flavor dominating the taste. The dried cranberry added a hint of honey to the flavor. The pecan made the Bourbon taste a little stronger, but still mostly Tequila.
- Mike: Medium long with oak and Tequila. The dried cranberry brought out a little cinnamon in the finish. The pecan made the finish long and dry with oak, Tequila and a hint of cinnamon.
- Matt: A Tequila style finish with very little oak and a hint of strawberries. The dried cranberry added a hint of honey. The pecan made the finish longer.
Mary Dowling Wheat Recipe Bourbon Toasted Double Oak Finish
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Vanilla, pears, pecans, baking spice and oak wood.
- Matt: Caramel, chocolate, butterscotch, oak wood.
- Mike: Vanilla, pears, cinnamon, pecans, oak wood. The dried cranberry added ginger to the spice flavor. The pecan made the vanilla a rich buttered caramel and added apple to the fruit flavor of the Bourbon.
- Matt: Chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, blackberries and oak wood. The dried cranberry added cinnamon spice. The pecan made the taste of chocolate, brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Mike: Medium long with oak and cinnamon spice. The dried cranberry made the finish longer with oak, ginger, cinnamon, and a hint of milk chocolate. The pecan made the finish longer with oak, cinnamon and lingering caramel.
- Matt: Medium long with oak, chocolate and lingering blackberry. The dried cranberry added cinnamon to the finish. The pecan made the finish very long and dry with oak and cinnamon spice.
I would pair these whiskeys with a NUB Maduro cigar. I think the vanilla and tobacco flavors of the smoke would pair well with the flavors in these whiskeys.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller