Bourbon Reviews, Distillery News and Information
Rabbit Hole Distillery
711 E Jefferson St
Louisville, KY 40202
Please enjoy our Rabbit Hole Distillery Tour Review!
There’s a new distillery in town (in 2012)
In the realm of bourbon distilleries in Louisville, KY, Rabbit Hole Distillery is one of the new kids on the block. There is no lengthy family history in distilling nor any revived family recipe lying dormant since prohibition. There is just a man who developed a life altering fancy for bourbon. Kaveh Zamanian, founder and CEO of Rabbit Hole Distillery, is that man; he wanted to create something unique in the ever growing and competitive world of bourbon. A visit to the home of this whiskey-making newbie offers ample proof of Rabbit Hole’s success. From the building’s architecture to the whiskey itself, Rabbit Hole Distillery has undeniably created its own one-of-a-kind footprint in the booming business of bourbon.
What’s in a name?
Zamanian created the brand in 2012. The name came from his wife’s comment that by pursuing this passion, he would be taking the family down the rabbit hole. Regardless, pursue his passion he did.
Rabbit Hole Mashbills
With the help of industry experts, Zamanian began by creating Rabbit Hole’s own unique recipes. Malted grains, generally used in bourbon and rye just to aid in fermentation, would take on more of a starring role. The majority of bourbon whiskey brands use less than 10% malted barley in their mashbills, again, to help in fermentation. Rabbit Hole however bucks this practice by using 30% malted grains. For example, Rabbit Hole’s Cavehill 4 grain bourbon mashbill is 70% corn, 10% malted wheat, 10% malted barley, and 10% malted honey barley, while its Heigold Bourbon is 70% corn, 25% malted rye, and 5% malted barley.
Whiskey First, Distillery Second
With recipes in hand, but no distillery, Zamanian then took the long road to producing Rabbit Hole’s first whiskeys. Instead of sourcing product from another distillery, he found a Kentucky distillery willing to cook his newly created mashbills. So while the company’s distillery was in the works, its bourbon and rye would already be aging. In October 2016 those Rabbit Hole whiskeys hit the shelves. Patience and perseverance would continue to pay off. A little more than a year and a half later, the Rabbit Hole Distillery opened in May of 2018 and by August, Rabbit Hole began filling its own barrels.
Art Museum or Distillery?
In a city brimming with distilleries, Rabbit Hole’s building is truly unique. In addition, it found the perfect home, as it is situated in the artsy NULU district of Louisville. The distillery is built on the former location of the Disney Tire Company and from the outside, it looks more modern art museum than distillery. The Rabbit Hole sign on Jefferson Street attests to its artsy nature; It’s a picture or a sign, depending on where one is standing. Inside, the design of the building allows the visitor to follow the process of making bourbon from grain to glass. This intentional flow makes for an exceptional visitor experience, as we would soon discover.
Visit The Distillery
The distillery and gift shop are open daily Tuesday-Saturday from 10-5. The Rabbit Hole Distillery Tour is offered on the hour Tuesday and Wednesday from 10-3 and Thursday-Saturday from 10-4. The cost is $25 including tax and fees. Military/veterans, seniors, and minors receive discounted admission. Tickets, including those that are discounted, can be purchased online. Reservations are encouraged at rabbitholedistillery.com as each tour time is limited to 10 visitors. Tours do sell out regularly. The Rabbit Hole Distillery Tour lasts approximately 1 hour and includes a guided tasting of their bourbons, rye, and gin.
Our Tour Begins in the Hallway of Distillery Education
Our guide for the tour was Rabbit Hole’s Whiskey Specialist, Adam Edward. He also serves as the Single Barrel Experience Manager for the distillery. We knew we were in good hands, so with the social niceties quickly exchanged, we were off to learn everything about Rabbit Hole Distillery.
The tour begins in the hallway right outside the gift shop. Adam began by first pointing out that the distillery’s design required not just maximum efficiency for distilling, but also for education. As a result, the tour route provides the visitor with a crystal-clear view of Rabbit Hole’s distilling processes and techniques. The hallway serves as the first teaching tool on the tour. On the right, Adam pointed out that actual building plans for the distillery’s various areas serve as decorative, but informative, posters. There’s Milling & Mashing, Fermentation, Distillation, and Barreling & Bottling. It’s a manual of Rabbit Hole’s design and processes.
On the opposite wall of the hallway, several large windows provide views into some of these areas such as the fill and dump room for barreling as well as the bottling room; yes, for bottling. There is also a window which features the hammer mill used to crush the grain. Here the glass extends to the floor, where it continues across the hallway floor and over into the distillery. The milled grain can be seen moving through the clear piping (located under the glass) when mashing is about to begin. Now that’s transparency! With each window there was an accompanying explanation of the process occurring behind the glass. With all windows accounted for, we were ready to move on.
Into The Distillery We Go
The second teaching tool was the inside of the distillery proper. We entered on the second floor where the view was dominated by nine 8,000 gallon fermenters. Three newer fermenters have been added (on the backside of the building) since the distillery opened. This allows the company to distill around the clock. Adam directed our attention to several of the fermenters by pointing out the various stages of fermentation in each tank. It’s fascinating to see. A newly filled tank has the appearance of a muddy river, while one that has almost completed its 72 hours of fermentation resembles countless heads of cauliflower. No matter the stage, distillers manage the workflow from the nifty digital wall monitor as well as from the distiller’s lab, both located on the same floor.
The Vendome Still
Next up was the workhorse of the distillery, the 46 ft 8 inch copper column still made by Vendome of Louisville, KY. The still is remarkably accessible with great views from all floors. This well-planned feature, while convenient for the distillers, is also great for the visitors. Stairs inside the distillery allow for easy movement between floors. Our first close-up view of the still in action took place on the 2nd floor. We parked ourselves directly in front as Adam highlighted Rabbit Hole’s distillation process. While we listened, it was hard not to be mesmerized by the washing machine-like action through the still’s glass portholes.
A Most Unusual Spirit Safe
One item however did stand out as unique. After heading up the next flight of stairs for a higher view of the still, we noticed Rabbit Hole’s unusual spirit safe. Most spirit safes consists of 2 separate sections housed in one box (safe). One side for the low wine (the first run off the still) and the other for the high wine (the second run through a doubler). Rabbit Hole breaks the mold and has 2 completely separate safes. The low wine safe was positioned right where we were on the third floor. The view of the 125 proof low wine pouring with such rapid speed was impressive.
To get a view of the high wine safe, we made our way up another set of stairs. Here the action was more subtle. Enclosed in a large modish display-style case, crafted of stainless steel and glass, was a singular clear spout. A continuous flow of high wine, now 138 proof, gently poured over the edges of the spout, much like a soothing garden water feature, onto the mirrored surface below. The sum of all the labors: milling, mashing, fermenting, and distilling, was proudly displayed in the clear new make. Only for a moment, as it quickly exits, off to its next destination, the barreling room. Here the newly distilled white dog will be proofed down to a precise 110 for its entry proof into the barrel.
A Bird’s Eye View
A final flight of stairs took us from high wine back to the still; this time to the very top. It is a rarity to be able to view this monstrous piece of equipment from its apex. As we witnessed the “magic” taking place through its highest port hole-like windows, Adam finished with a few final points regarding the intricacies of distillation. With no more stairs to climb, our distillation education had come to a completion.
Rabbit Hole’s Aptly Named Overlook Lounge
It’s no coincidence that our tour ended at the top of the still. Doing so allows for quick entrance to Rabbit Hole’s Overlook lounge. Our tour route had taken us to the 4th floor where our last teaching tool was waiting. The apex of the still and the Overlook are separated by a short hallway. In fact our tasting was set so that in front of us was the terrific view of the north facing Louisville skyline, while behind us hovered the 46 ft coppered king. Before we began soaking up too much ambiance, Adam presented our tasting.
The Rabbit Hole Whiskey Tasting
The standard tasting for the Rabbit Hole Distillery Tour includes 5 samples: the Cavehill Four Grain Bourbon, the Heigold Bourbon, the Boxergrail Rye, the Rabbit Hole Bespoke Gin, and the Dareringer Bourbon Finished in Sherry Casks. Each of Rabbit Hole’s whiskeys takes a name with historical ties to the city. For example, Cavehill refers to the Cavehill Cemetery in Louisville. It’s an homage to the many generations of whiskey makers who rest there. Their efforts have helped all those that have followed.
As we began to sample, Adam reminded us to pay particular attention to the Cavehill and the Heigold flavors. These 2 bourbon show off their unique mash bills. The higher percentage of malted grains translated very well in each whiskey. Adam briefly discussed the remaining samples and we did our part by finishing each. Our empty glasses signaled that our tour had officially come to an end. We thanked Adam for being such a gracious host and sharing his wealth of information.
Stay Awhile And Enjoy A Drink With A View
While our glasses may have been empty, we did not have to leave Rabbit Hole’s Overlook lounge. Tour guests are welcome to stay for a cocktail or a pour. The Overlook bar menu offers a list of neat pours and signature cocktails, as well as a list of classic cocktails. Whether from a bar chair or a couch cushion, the view is definitely cocktail worthy; on warmer days the outside deck would be a great setting to soak up some fresh air. As of this review, generally only tour visitors are allowed in the Overlook. Covid-19 continues to limit capacity however, on slow days, non-ticketed visitors may be allowed access.
Back To The Beginning
We headed back down to where it all began, the retail gift shop. The gift shop features a terrific selection of items for the home bar, fashionable clothing options, and of course, all of Rabbit Hole’s spirits. It’s a great place just to pop in and pick up a gift that any bourbon lover would enjoy.
Rabbit Hole Knowledge And Appreciation Gained
While the gift shop may have left our wallets a little lighter, we were richer with our new knowledge and appreciation for Rabbit Hole Distillery. As it turns out, this new kid on the Louisville distilling block knows exactly what they’re doing. Rabbit Hole melds perfectly its flair for the artistic with the tried and true methods of making bourbon. No family history required.
We you enjoyed our Rabbit Hole Distillery Tour Review! Would you like to read more about Rabbit Hole Distillery’s whiskeys? Check out our article about Rabbit Hole Bourbons and Rye.
Would you like to learn more about distilleries and bourbon? Are you planning a trip to Kentucky Distilleries? Maybe you would like to live the bourbon life vicariously through us?? If any of these are true, then check out BourbonObsessed.com today!
Rabbit Hole Distillery Details
|Distillery Name||Rabbit Hole Distillery|
|Days of operation||Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm|
|Paved Drive / Lot||Lot is free, as is street parking|
|Motorcycle Parking||No separate parking|
|Motorcycle unfriendly features||NA|
|Number of tours per day||Rabbit Hole Distillery Tour
This standard tour is offered on the hour
|Length of Tour(s)||1h|
|Advanced topic tours?||Not currently|
|Advanced topic tour names||NA|
|Tours by owners /distillers available?||Not currently|
|Number of different types of tours||1|
|On-Line Tour Reservations Available||Yes, recommended.|
|Advanced Reservations Recommended/Required||Yes, particularly for weekend days and during summer|
|Cost for tour(s) in $||$25.00|
|Number of samples included in tasting||5|
|Tasting Only Option?||Not currently, but coming soon|
|Tasting Only Option Cost||TBA|
|High-end tasting option?||No|
|High-end tasting option cost?||NA|
|Designated Driver Option||No|
|Handicapped Accessible?||Yes, except for 1 floor|
|Souvenirs included with tour?||No|
|On-Site bottle sales?||Yes|
|On-site food: Restaurant/Cafe/Snacks||No|
|On-site Cocktail bar||Yes, but due to Covid-19 priority access is given to tour guests|
|On-site event space||Yes|
|Should I visit? (Yes, Perhaps, No)||Do not skip|
|Unique Features||Modern building and building layout provides an excellent visitor experience|