Recent Acquisitions: Dorwart Mexican Whiskey Special Reserve

Dorwart whiskey in the foreground, Los Dos Compadres in the background

About a year and half ago, I reviewed a bottle of Los 2 Compadres Single Cask Sour Mash whiskey. Just recently, our now former neighbors reached out to me.  It seems the folks at the distillery really appreciated the review and they wanted me to try out a bottle of their new and improved product. To be clear, I received this bottle for free but I am not receiving any other compensation for writing this review. If I was, I’m sure the distillery owners would be a little annoyed since I’ve been sitting on this bottle for well more than a month.

The bottle that I received, as shown in the picture above, is labeled Dorwart Mexican Whiskey Special Reserve Single Cask. It is 45% alcohol by volume and seems to have been aged longer than the previous product that I reviewed. My understanding from my former neighbor is that this bottle is a special release and represents some of the best product produced by the distillery to date. More information about the distillery can be found on their new web page.

Before I describe this whiskey, I want to give a little background on the distillery. It is located in Boca de Tomatlan, Mexico, which is a small fishing village approximately 20km south of Puerto Vallarta. The owners originate from Saskatchewan however, where their family produced a moonshine for many years. At the distillery in Mexico they have experimented with producing vodka and rum in addition to whiskey, but settled on two varieties of whiskey as their initial products: Gringo Larry’s Shine Whiskey and the Dorwart Single Cask Whiskey. The original brand name for the single cask whiskey was Los 2 Compadres, as it was for my original tasting, but the name has now been changed to Dorwart. This is the last name of the distillery’s founders, and I understand the change was made to give the whiskey a name that sounds more like a whiskey than a tequila.

I personally find that I get the most out of tasting when I taste multiple products together. The comparison gives me a much better sense of the spirit, perhaps because my memory of various tastes is just not that good! For this tasting, I chose to taste the Dorwart Single Cask Whiskey with the bottle of Los 2 Compadres Single Cask Whiskey from the previous tasting, Maker’s Mark straight bourbon, and W.L. Weller 12 straight bourbon. I chose these two bourbons for comparison because they are both wheated bourbons and are lighter in flavor compared to most of the other bourbons that I own. I would have preferred to taste in comparison to another 100% corn whiskey, but I don’t happen to own another product with that mashbill.

Looking at all four whiskeys in the glass, the mexican whiskeys are noticeably lighter in color than the Kentucky bourbons, and the Dorwart Special Reserve is darker than the Los 2 Compadres.  No doubt this is because the mexican whiskeys were aged for less time than the bourbons, and the special reserve was aged longer than the original whiskey. Note that the Dorwart is not as dark as the picture above would suggest. Kentucky straight bourbon must have been aged for at least two years, but the W.L. Weller has a 12 year age statement and Maker’s Mark has been reported to age for 6-8 years.  The age of both mexican whiskeys is not stated anywhere that I can find, but the distillery is no more than 3 years old.

The nose on the Dorwart has a light sweetness with notes of caramel. Compared to Los 2 Compadres, the scent is less harsh and the notes that reminded me of Mexican agave spirits are not noticeable (these are caused by the locally occurring yeasts in Mexico). The bourbons in contrast have a deeper aroma of wood but similar levels of sweetness to the Dorwart.

Sipping the Dorwart is pleasant with a noticeable caramel sweetness. It is much less harsh than the Los 2 Compadres and has none of the white whiskey flavors that I notice in that whiskey. I’m certain the Dorwart was aged for longer, but I also wonder if the distillers were more conservative with their heads & tails cuts for the special reserve in comparison to the earlier product. I found the straight bourbons to both be less sweet and slightly sour in comparison to the Dorwart, but with more complex woody flavors towards the back of the palate. I’m sure this difference is due to the amount of time the various whiskeys spent in barrels.

Leaving the Mexican whiskeys in the glass for some time, as I did during this tasting, also improves the flavor of both. The sweetness and caramel flavors are accentuated and the mouthfeel in the special reserve seems to become somewhat thicker and more viscous.

Overall, I think the quality of the whiskey from the Destileria Los 2 Compadres has certainly improved since my previous tasting and is now competitive with some Kentucky bourbons, especially if you prefer lighter and sweet spirits. I’m sure that more age will further improve these whiskeys. The distillery has only been operating for 2-3 years and whiskey is a spirit known to improve with more age.  I can’t wait to see what a 5-6 year aged product tastes like.

I should also add that the Dorwart Special Reserve makes a quite nice Old Fashioned.

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