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Bourbon

Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel Finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon

$75.00

OVERALL
RATING

7

Whiskey Review: Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel Finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Tasting Notes:

About:
No age statement (NAS). High rye mash bill. Finished in Tequila barrels. 93 proof (46.5% ABV). $75/750ml.
Appearance:
A soft yellow tinted tangerine.
Nose:
Vanilla and tobacco leaf float among cedar planks and allspice.
Palate:
Fresh orange citrus is backed up with warm honey and cinnamon. Roasted almonds mix with rich oak, leading to spicy bite and finish of eucalyptus and ginger snaps.
Finish:
Comments:
In execution, the marriage of bourbon and tequila plays out. Robust spice is hidden behind a front of a vegetal freshness, with returns with a hint of agave on the finish. While this expression chooses to not highlight the tequila, it does use the unique barrel finishing to round and amplify the overall product. I would not recommend this if you are looking for a tequila-esq experience, but if you’re looking for a good bourbon, this fits the bill.

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs. 

We love history. Humans, I mean. We love it. There are books, movies, plays, artwork, entire colleges that are dedicated to studying and sharing it with humanity. Such love extends to ancient times with cultures telling the stories of their history, as with the Iliad and Odyssey. One reason I think we do this is because history gives us the chance to see a person’s whole story. We don’t know how we’ll die or what will happen to us tomorrow, but for historical figures, we can see the entire arc of their life. It’s scary, inspiring, joyful, saddening, all because we see ourselves reflected in others’ experiences, wondering if our story will be the same.

The history of the bourbon industry is no exception, with maybe a little less gravitas 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 motivational and compelling in the annals of whiskey-making,” said Kaveh Zamanian, founder of Rabbit Hole Distillery and co-founder of the new enterprise: Mary Dowling Whiskey Company.

Born in 1959 in Bourbon County, the Kentucky native married into whiskey, with her husband being an established cooper (making barrels) and distiller. By the mid 1880s, she and her husband owned three distilleries. The family businesses thrived through 1920, when prohibition hit. Dowling turned to bootlegging, which ultimately resulted in criminal charges being filed and later convicted on members of her family. She pivoted, moving her whole distilling operation to Juarez, Mexico, which survived until the 1970s, though Dowling passed away in 1930, just prior to prohibition ending.

The Mary Dowling brand, in August, released the first two whiskeys in its lineup: the Mary Dowling Toasted Double Oak Barrel and Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel, both of which I would categorize 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 her extraordinary character, celebrate her legacy and her iconic distillery, Waterfill & Frazier. We are excited to finally share two original expressions, which are meant to be savored while toasting to the unstoppable spirit of Mary Dowling.”

With a high rye mash bill, the Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel I’m reviewing here, can be expected to spicy, with a bit of pepper, cloves, anise, allspice and other spices, while the tequila finish should add smoother vanilla, honey, and citrus flavors to counterbalance the spice. 

Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel Finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon review
We review Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel Finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon, a high rye mash bill bourbon finished in ex-tequila barrels. (image via Jeffrey Nitschke/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel Finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Vital Stats: No age statement (NAS). High rye mash bill. Finished in Tequila barrels. 93 proof (46.5% ABV). $75/750ml.

Appearance: A soft yellow tinted tangerine.

Nose: Vanilla and tobacco leaf float among cedar planks and allspice. 

Palate: Fresh orange citrus is backed up with warm honey and cinnamon. Roasted almonds mix with rich oak, leading to spicy bite and finish of eucalyptus and ginger snaps.

Jeffrey Nitschke

I am a Portland area attorney whose career has dovetailed with a love of fine spirits and cigars. With no formal training in the field, my own interest spurred a thorough education through books, articles, visits to distilleries all over the United States, and a few deep dives into Wikipedia. Outside of my career and ever escalating pursuit of good whiskey, I can be found enjoying CrossFit, gardening, and playing music.

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