We’ve been following Louisville’s Rabbit Hole Distillery since they first hit the crowded American whiskey scene a few years back. The original core lineup included a rye whiskey, dubbed Boxergrail, and now a select few barrels (just seven, in fact) have been chosen for bottling as the distillery’s first ultra-rare Founder’s Collection release. The standard rye is reportedly at least two years old, but this is six-year-old juice, comprising some of the earliest stocks barreled by Kaveh Zamanian, Rabbit Hole’s founder and whiskey maker. Like the standard Boxergrail, the Founder’s Collection release is a Kentucky-distilled mashbill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley that sees a low barrel entry proof of just 110. It’s the only Rabbit Hole whiskey, however, to be bottled at cask strength. We enjoyed the standard offering, so let’s see how the older, unadulterated version fares.
The nose blends ample candy shop notes – dark caramel, taffy, Andes mints – with more exotic and earthy dill, bergamot, and Oolong tea. The dill is not quite comparable to that other 95/5 recipe distilled just north of here. It’s softer and less pickled, and in the case of this whiskey, perfectly integrated into a rather complex aroma. The palate is gentler, and maybe a little sweeter, than most cask strength ryes I’ve encountered, showcasing rich baking spice, toffee, and graham cracker. It coats the tongue without saturating it, and there’s an easy, consistent warmth across the sip accented by soft, grassy spices. Only at its conclusion do those spices really turn peppery, adding complexity to a generous finish accented by honey-sweetened black tea and clove. Very well done. This drinks like a much older rye whiskey with considerable balance and depth of flavor.
The inaugural Founder’s Collection release is very limited with only about 1,300 bottles available, but according to Rabbit Hole, there will be more “honey barrel” releases in the future drawn from other whiskeys in their portfolio. Stay tuned.