A new addition to its high end Founder’s Collection whiskeys, Rabbit Hole recently released a 15-year-old cask strength Kentucky straight bourbon finished in Japanese Mizunara oak.
Kaveh Zamanian, founder and whiskey maker of Rabbit Hole, said this second expression of Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection is the brand’s oldest and most exquisite offering to date.
He said the idea behind the Founder’s Collection is “uncompromising commitment to innovation and elevating the practice of whiskey making to a high art.” This collection pairs Rabbit Hole’s oldest expression of Kentucky Straight Bourbon with oak from Japan’s most pristine forest to create a true double-oaked bourbon. The Kentucky straight bourbon was aged for 15 years in new charred American oak and spent another year of aging in virgin Japanese Mizunara oak.
The Founder’s Collection in total is composed of ten rare 15-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskeys selected by Zamanian from his private collection, each with a distinct flavor profile exclusive to the specific barrel in which it was aged. Zamanian said that when blended, the whiskeys created a story of dimension and complexity, as aroma, taste and finish came together in harmony.
To explain the creative process behind this singular release, Zamanian takes us back to what the brand describes are the days before he began Rabbit Hole. It was then that he began curating his personal collection of whiskey barrels, selecting those that “spoke to him,” each with a splendor of their own. Zamanian purchased these barrels, admittedly not knowing what he would do with them. He cloistered the charred American oak barrels, allowing them to expand, contract and deepen the whiskey’s complexity for fifteen years of seasonality in Kentucky.
Guided by innovation and with a touch of the mad scientist, Zamanian said, he knew that this special whiskey could be made even richer by additional aging in virgin Mizunara casks. So he worked for two years to acquire the right casks, ultimately selecting the family-owned Ariake Sangyo cooperage in Shochu Island, Japan to provide their aromatic, handcrafted casks for this special whiskey.
Made from indigenous wood harvested from 200- to 500-year-old oak trees and charred at levels 3 to 5, the hand-shaped Ariake Sangyo casks bring forth what’s described as notes of wood, mint and an array of exotic flavors.
When the year-long Mizunara cask aging was complete to his liking, Zamanian said he felt the new creation had to be shared at cask strength, letting the whiskey take center stage.
“I have long had a desire to explore the impact of terroir on whiskey,” Zamanian said in a prepared statement. “By blending and maturing 15-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon in new Japanese Mizunara oak, I set out to push the envelope on innovation, creating a truly unique expression that gives connoisseurs an opportunity to experience the marriage of two whiskey terroirs … It was an act of risk and reward for me to take some of the oldest and finest bourbon from my personal collection and finish it in Mizunara casks. I could not be more pleased with the result. Rabbit Hole Mizunara Founder’s Collection is one of the finest whiskeys I have ever tasted and I take great pride in being able to share it with those who have a passion for one-of-a-kind whiskey.”
Distiller’s official tasting notes on the Mizunara Founder’s Collection find a deep mahogany liquid that on the nose, features notes of banana, apple, pear, cherry, mint, black pepper and vanilla. The palate will find oak, spice, custard, nutmeg, black pepper, tobacco and cinnamon which make way for a flourish of honey, rose and currant. The finish is buttery, with banana, stone fruit and notes of warm earth.
Rabbit Hole Mizunara Founder’s Collection is out now, bottled at 114.2 proof, and only 1,403 sequentially-numbered bottles will be released, at a suggested retail price of $1,500 per bottle.
In keeping with Rabbit Hole’s design aesthetic, the presentation of the bottle consists of a wooden box adorned with an engraved rabbit and gold appointments and includes a personal note from Zamanian. The front and back panels of the box can be removed to allow the bottle and the liquid within to be displayed.