How an Anderson County Distillery Ended Up in Mexico

John Dowling's Distillery

John Dowling’s Distillery

Anderson County was home to many bourbon distilleries, but Prohibition ended most of them.  However, through a strange set of events, one of the county’s premier distilleries would end up being moved one piece at a time to Mexico to continue distilling the spirit.

Although not the first distiller in Anderson County, John Dowling, nevertheless, became very successful operating the Waterfill & Frazier Distillery in the late 1800’s.  Enjoying the wealth, he and his wife, Mary Dowling, would build one of the nicest mansions on South Main Street that still stands today.

With a warehouse capacity exceeding 21,000 barrels in 1890, the distillery was exceedingly popular.  Eventually buying out his partners in the distillery, John would bring his wife into the company to help run it.

Not long after, however, John passed away.  Mary became the operator of the successful distillery, and eventually her children joined her in the operation.

However, the success would be cut short.  When Prohibition was enacted in 1920, Mary came up with a plan that would keep the business going.  She withdrew large amounts of bourbon from her warehouses and sold a portion to other companies that were licensed to sell medicinal amounts of liquor.

But another large portion ended up in her house.  She began selling the liquor illegally for a number of years before she was caught red handed with a large quantity of the spirit in her basement.

Court battles ensued.  After much contention, the Dowlings were convicted.  However, the conviction wouldn’t stick on appeal as the stenographer who chronicled the trial passed away and no one could read his notes.

That bit of luck gave Mary another chance to resurrect the distillery, but this time legally.  She contacted another out of work Kentucky distiller, Joseph Beam, to dismantle the Waterfill & Frazier distillery and move the whole thing to Juarez, Mexico.

Serving much of Central and South America, the new Mexican bourbon distillery brought a quality liquor to the area and even allowed Americans visiting Mexico to enjoy bourbon once again during Prohibition.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPin on PinterestEmail this to someone
Posted in History & Heritage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.