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Pernod debuts new whiskey brand Mary Dowling

French firm Pernod Ricard has formed a joint venture with Rabbit Hole distillery founder Kaveh Zamanian to create a new Bourbon brand, called Mary Dowling.

Pernod creates Mary Dowling whiskey
Pernod Ricard has co-created a new American whiskey brand: Mary Dowling

Pernod Ricard and Zamanian have worked together since 2019 when the French firm acquired a majority stake in Kentucky distillery Rabbit Hole.

Together, they have formed the Mary Dowling Whiskey Company, which makes its debut with two expressions: a high-rye Bourbon finished in Tequila barrels, and Double Oak Cask Strength Bourbon.

The brand was named after the ‘most successful and influential female distiller in the male-dominated world of pre-Prohibition Bourbon’.

Mary Dowling was known as the ‘mother of Bourbon’, the brand said. Her life was filled with ‘life-altering’ events including the death of her husband, a distillery fire, the founding of a bank, legal battles and shifting production to Juárez in Mexico during Prohibition.

“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 Zamanian, co-founder of Mary Dowling Whiskey Company.

“We wanted to create a whiskey to honour her extraordinary character, celebrate her legacy and her iconic distillery, Waterfill & Frazier.”

The debut expressions celebrate the 100th anniversary of Dowling’s ‘triumph over dry laws’.

“I am thrilled that my great-great-grandmother’s remarkable life story is finally being told. Her journey inspires us to embrace challenges, to find solutions where others see obstacles and to celebrate the indomitable spirit within us,” added Cathy Brown, a direct descendant of Dowling.

Debut expressions

The Tequila Barrel expression is a Kentucky straight Bourbon matured in oloroso Sherry barrels for a year, and finished in reposado Tequila barrels to honour Dowling’s distillery in Juárez.

The mash bill is made up of 70% corn, 25% malted rye and 5% malted barley.

The resulting liquid offers fruity flavours and earthy, smoky tones followed by a black pepper finish. It is bottled between 46.7%-47.5% ABV.

Double Oak Barrel was matured in two different oak barrels from Kentucky’s Kelvin Cooperage. It was rested in heavily toasted and charred new American oak barrels, and lightly toasted charred new American oak barrels.

Bottled at 53.5% ABV, the Bourbon carries notes of tobacco, cherry and oak, alongside lingering spices.

The Mary Dowling Whiskey Company range is available to buy from select retailers in Kentucky, New Jersey, Maryland, Washington DC, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Los Angeles.

Mary Dowling Tequila Barrel retails for RRP US$75 and Double Oak Barrel is priced at RRP US$130.

Zamanian, who is also the whiskey maker and CEO of Rabbit Hole, was inducted into the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in September 2022.

Pernod Ricard has made a number of moves in American whiskey in recent years, including the creation of a dedicated division and the purchase of a majority stake in peanut butter-flavoured Skrewball whiskey.

The company is also planning to build a US$250 million distillery for its Jefferson’s Bourbon brand.

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