In a spirits industry that is enamored with celebrity brands, Rabbit Hole Distillery stands apart as an original and genuine attempt at quality and differentiation without the extra fluff. The brand was started in 2012 by Kaveh Zamanian, a clinical psychologist with a passion for spirits encouraged by his native-Kentuckian wife Heather. The name Rabbit Hole comes from his wife’s comments every time he’d take the family to visit another distillery. “You’re taking the family down the rabbit hole,” she’d say. In a video interview posted on the company’s YouTube channel, Kaveh explains to his wife (the interviewer), “You were expressing concern for taking the family down this rabbit hole and I was thinking, ‘what a great name.’”
Kaveh’s idea was to establish a distillery with unique whiskey recipes as opposed to sourcing whiskey and slapping a pretty label on it. He went for a modern and experimental approach inspired by the craft beer industry by employing high-quality grains from different providers and coming up with mash bills that appealed to him as the end consumer. The experimentation extended to barrel selection and toasting methods, and in the case of the Dareringer expression, Rabbit Hole finished its bourbon in PX sherry casks a la Scotch.
The distillery’s pursuit of quality and originality was rewarded in 2019 when spirits giant Pernod Ricard entered into a strategic partnership with Rabbit Hole, boosting the distillery’s position in the American whiskey space while freeing up Zamanian and his team to focus on the distillery’s day to day operations and product development.
On the nose, the Rabbit Hole Boxergrail is loaded with brown sugar, vanilla, and oak spice. The palate is medium-bodied and departs from the nose with more prominent wood, citrus, and cocoa accompanied by a touch of tobacco in the background. The whiskey is distinct as promised, unlike almost any other rye we’ve tasted, in a good way.
Cigar Pairing: Diesel Whiskey Row Boxergrail
The Diesel Whiskey Row Boxergrail is an ultra-flavorful cigar delivering tons of dark chocolate, smooth pepper, oak, and a rich caramel sweetness on the finish. The best way we found to enjoy this combo was to sandwich the whiskey between puffs of the Diesel. Puff and enjoy the smoke, take a small sip of the whiskey and let it go down enjoying the first half of the pairing, then take multiple puffs of the cigar noting the change as the whiskey dissipates. The whiskey’s hidden tobacco note emerges to the forefront and combines with a rich caramel sweetness and zesty rye spice.