Kaveh Zamanian is not your typical founder of a distillery, before Rabbit Hole Distillery, he got his start as a clinical psychologist before bourbon showed him a new path in life. The story goes that Kaveh met his wife, Heather, and while he enjoyed bourbon, scotch was his main go-to at the time. Heather helped him enhance his love for bourbon and thus his life went down the “rabbit hole” and a distillery was eventually born. Started in 2012, Rabbit Hole has splashed on to the scene in the Louisville and have turned out some impressive bourbons and whiskeys. Today, we are going to take a deep dive on their Rabbit Hole Rye Whiskey.
One thing you will notice about Rabbit Hole is they are very keen on quality. They state that every grain is inspected before it goes into the silo to ensure it meets standards. Once it passes, the grain is conveyed to the roller mills where it is ground to a very particular micron size for mashing. The grain is then weighed and conveyed to the cooker where water and setback are already waiting.
The grains are added at certain temperatures and cooked. The mash is then cooled and sent to the Fermenters where it is inoculated with yeast and fermented for 3-5 days. After that, it is pumped to the beer well and fed to the distillation column and then the doubler. At this point the distillate is cut with RO water to barrel entry proof and dispensed into a barrel at 110 proof to begin aging.
Rabbit Hole never chill filters in their products and this enhance the overall flavor. The barrels used are hand-selected, wood-fired, toasted and charred barrels. Once the whiskey is mature, it is dumped, and the char is filtered before it is cut to bottling proof and bottled. If you see a bottle on the shelf, you should grab it because all of Rabbit Hole’s American whiskies are made in small batches with less than 15 barrels per batch.
As you can see from the proprietary cooking methods and mash bills that were created by Kaveh Zamanian, quality and creativity are at the forefront of what they are trying to achieve. Now, how did it taste? Read below for our panel’s tasting notes.
- Proof: 95 (47.5% ABV)
- Age: 3+ years
- Nose: Butterscotch, thyme, pine, cinnamon
- Flavors: Brown sugar, rye bread, apple, cocoa
- Price: $49.99
The Rabbit Hole Rye features a 95 percent rye, 5 percent malted barley mash bill. High rye whiskeys usually have a nice sweet flavor. On the nose, we got a nice burn from the high alcohol content. It is brief and gives way to some nice butterscotch and cinnamon. If you wait a bit longer on your second and third sniffs you will see some nice notes of thyme and pine needles to come forward. On the palate we got plenty of rye bread, and not as much of a burn as we thought based on the initial sniffs. Some nice notes of brown sugar, cocoa and some tasters picked a hint of apple and fruit on the finish. You can taste the alcohol throughout, but again not overpowering and allows the flavors to nestle on palette.
Overall, for being a 2+ year whiskey we were surprised with the results of the Rye. The price tag for a young whiskey may scare some off. However, with high-quality attention to detail and a thoughtful distilling process, the Rye Whiskey is tasty.
MIX IT UP WITH…Waldorf Cocktail
- 2 oz Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Rye
- 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
- 1/4 oz absinthe or substitute
- 2 dashes bitters
Pour the absinthe into a chilled cocktail glass, swirl it around to coat the sides, then toss any excess. Pour the whiskey and vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into the rinsed glass and enjoy!