Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Review

What happens when you chase both a woman and your dream of opening a distillery? You go down the Rabbit Hole! And that is exactly what happened to Kaveh Zamanian.

Rabbit Hole Bourbon Review Featured Image


  • DISTILLER: Rabbit Hole Distilling: Contract distilled in northern Kentucky.
  • MASH BILL: 70% Corn | 10% Malted Wheat | 10% Malted Barley  |  10% Honey Malted Barley
  • AGE: 2+ Years
  • YEAR: 2016
  • PROOF: 95 (47.5% ABV)
  • MSRP: $54.99
  • BUY ONLINE: Ezras.com  |  Binnys.com


NOSE: Heavy Grain | Light Cinnamon | Light Floral | Young

TASTE: Initial Grain | Dark Fruit/ Cherries | Light Vanilla at the end FINISH: I sensed a thin, initial finish but was pleasantly surprised at the spice that lingered on my tongue. I would not say that the finish was overly complex or deep but I would not expect it to be for a young drink.

SHARE WITH: This is a bourbon I would share with friends who enjoy something new and are looking to think outside the box. This would be a good blind-taste bourbon to see if your guest can identify the unique honey malted wheat.

WORTH THE PRICE: The MSRP is $54.99. This is the price point where many people begin to waffle on spending that kind of money on a new-to-market bourbon. If $50 is pushing your comfort level you may want to try a pour first. If you are able to let go half a C-note in order to add to your collection then I think you should give it a try.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This is a bottle - and a very good looking bottle at that - I certainly do not mind having on my bar. True it is still a young tasting bourbon but I look forward to letting it air out for a few months. I’m sure it will develop a little more after sitting.

OVERALL: I was not totally blown away by Rabbit Hole Kentucky Straight bourbon on my first pour but it did exceed my hesitations about a two-year juice. I have sampled many younger bourbons that I could not even finish. I believe that the unique four-grain mash bill helps to mask the infancy of the product. I know that Rabbit Hole will keep aging some of its stock in order to be able to release a four-year bourbon in 2018. I am looking forward to going back down the rabbit hole when that happens.


NOSE: Very Floral  |  Corn  |  Brown Sugar  | Buttered Almonds

TASTE: Sweet Corn  | Wheat | Pepper | Almonds

FINISH: Medium finish with a cinnamon and pepper bite rounded out with a bit of sweet corn and honey. Balance is lacking as I felt that the upfront flavors were flat.

SHARE WITH: Share with those that like their bourbons a bit younger and enjoy a floral nose.

WORTH THE PRICE: I think the MSRP is a bit steep for this one. It's young and not unique enough to command a $54.99 per bottle price.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Try this at a bar before you invest in a bottle. It's a good first effort from the brand but not quite where it needs to be to get a space in my collection at home.

OVERALL: As this one sat open for a while, the nose started to remind me of some of the more floral Four Roses bourbons I've enjoyed. Unfortunately, the taste reflects the bourbons young age and is a bit too thin for my tastes. There are some interesting notes of brown sugar and almonds in the mix, but its youth is apparent with a sweet corn and pepper forward mix. The nose clearly exceeds the taste at this time. That all being said, it's much better than many craft distiller's 2+-year-old bourbons, but at the $50+ price range, it will take more than that to get me to open my wallet and add it to my home collection.


COLOR: Amber with tones of caramel

NOSE: Apple and berry granola with hint of coffee, brown sugar and nutmeg

TASTE: Begins with a nice balance of fruits and grains, mid palette has organic flavors of wheat and grass and finishes with taste of vanilla, honey and almond

As with all good stories, it starts with a girl. I fell in love with Heather while living in Chicago. She introduced me to Bourbon, luring me away from my beloved Scotch. During our countless conversations, she made me fall for Kentucky and for Bourbon in the same way I fell for her. It was her charm and beauty that pulled me down the rabbit hole and ever since then, I have felt a strong connection with the country side of Kentucky, the progressive southern vibrancy of Louisville and of course, Bourbon. Knowing the connection between Bourbon and America, it was astounding for me to see how for years, our native spirit languished in relative obscurity, at least outside of Kentucky. So, I imagined an ambitious goal; to make Bourbon, bring people together and promote a sense of pride in our native spirit. After all, I thought, why is it that we’re not as well versed in Bourbon and proud of it the way the French are of their cognac or the Scottish of their scotch. Louisville gave me access to the most creative minds, deepest palates and seasoned experts in the world of distilling. Larry Ebersold, former master distiller at Seagram’s and Pernod-Ricard, Dave Scheurich formerly at Brown-Forman and our Master Distiller, Cameron Talley worked with me to develop our whiskies. In 2012, when it all started, I decided that for our core products, we will not buy sourced Bourbon, slap a label on it and call it our own. Our Bourbon and Rye whiskies are made 100% in Kentucky, with personal mash bills that stand apart from the pack. Our Fingerprint Editions are truly small batch, limited releases that showcase our hand in the art of finishing and blending sourced spirits. Exceptional 5-year old Straight Bourbon is finished in hand-selected 30-year old PX Sherry Casks from Spain and our London Dry Gin is imported from England and aged in Kentucky Rye Barrels.


What happens when you chase both a woman and your dream of opening a distillery? You go down the Rabbit Hole! And that is exactly what happened to Kaveh Zamanian. After 20 years as a very successful psychoanalyst in Chicago, Kaveh left behind his practice and the Windy City to follow his wife, Heather, back to her native hometown of Louisville, KY. It was then that Kaveh fell in love with Kentucky’s greatest exports and America’s native spirit.

Creating a unique mash bill that employs three malted grains to compliment the bourbon’s corn base, Zamanian ran his first signature distillate in 2014 through a contract distiller in northern Kentucky. After being aged for over two years in wood-fired, #3 char, white oak barrels - from Louisville-based Kelvin Cooperage - the first batch was dumped, bottled, and released in November 2016. Besides the four-grain straight bourbon, Rabbit Hole has three other expressions: a 95% straight rye whiskey and 2 “Finger Print” Editions; a five year Straight Bourbon Whiskey finished three months in PX sherry casks and Kentucky Rye Barrel Finish London Dry Gin. They are called Fingerprint because the spirits are sourced - bourbon from Kirby, Wyoming and Gin from London - then placed in Rabbit Hole owned sherry casks and rye barrels respectively and thus leaving their “fingerprint” on the product. **** transparency****

Kaveh’s leap into the rabbit hole allowed him to obtain both his dreams but he and Heather were not satisfied to just contract his innovative mash bill. Nope, next Kaveh, and his investors broke ground in October 2016 on a downtown Louisville distillery. According to a press release, the Rabbit Hole distillery is slated to “open Fall 2017 with a production goal of 20,000 barrels a year and will offer daily tours, as well as tasting rooms, a gift shop, 160+ person event space and restaurant.”

In their desire to keep things local, Rabbit Hole “enlisted the help of fourth-generation craftsman at Vendome Copper & Brass Works to build a 24-inch column still and other distillation equipment.”

Disclaimer: Rabbit Hole Distilling provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.