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Rabbit Hole Whiskey

Kaveh Zamanian fell in love with a Kentucky native and then its bourbon. Then he went down the rabbit hole and came out the other side with an ambitious and innovative brand.

After emigrating from Iran as a child, Zamanian grew up in LA and lived in New York and Chicago, working as a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst for over 20 years. In Chicago, he met his future wife, Heather, a fourth-generation Louisvillian who introduced him to bourbon. From there, an obsession started.

Beginning his journey around fifteen years ago, Zamanian decided there was no better way to learn how to make Kentucky bourbon than with some of its most respected distillers. Back then there wasn’t as much excitement as there is now so it was easier to get access to veterans like Larry Ebersole, who was the master distiller at Seagram’s for 25 years, and former Four Roses master distiller Jim Routledge.

From there was able to start developing his very own recipes, informed by a desire to contribute to American whiskey in a way that’s unique. The idea was that no two expressions could be the same.

It was in 2012 that Zamanian officially founded Rabbit Hole, before he had a distillery to call home. In the meantime, he found a producer that would make his recipes for him while working hand-in-hand with an architect to design and oversee the building of his own site in the heart of Louisville. By 2016, the first bottle of Rabbit Hole whiskey was released.

The distillery itself opened in May 2018 in the heart of NuLu, the city’s creative district. It’s a shiny behemoth of a place, a glass and steel structure that allows for a fully immersive experience of sights, sounds, and smells that lays the whiskey-making process out before visitors. A top-floor bar, The Overlook, serves cocktails with a view of the city. It’s what you’d think a modern distillery would look like. No matter what you’re level of engagement with whiskey is, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of the rabbit hole and into wonderland. The capacity allows Rabbit Hole to produce 1.2 million proof gallons (5.5 milion litres at 50% ABV) per year, which equates to 27,000 barrels being filled annually.

The process of creating Rabbit Hole begins by selecting one of the five different recipes Zamanian devised. He is also working on a handful of finishing projects and experiments in rye and single malt.

In 2019, a majority stake was snapped up by Pernod Ricard.

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