This Upstart Bourbon Brand Made a Stunning $1,100 Kentucky Derby Cocktail

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We've heard and written about a number of fledgling whiskey brands scattered across the country who are attempting to shake up the industry with artisanal products, sharper packaging, and greater appeal to younger drinkers. Few of them try to do so from the heart of American bourbon country, however.

Rabbit Hole is a notable exception. Last year they opened a beautifully-designed, 55,000 ft. distillery in the contemporary style right in Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky, the birthplace of bourbon.

Several years ago, Rabbit Hole founder Kaveh Zamanian, who received a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical psychology at Northwestern University, decided to apply his academic training to "developing a profound knowledge of the industry, shadowing some of bourbon’s most respected leaders," the brand says.

Today, Rabbit Hole produces a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, and a Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in PX (Pedro Ximénez) Sherry Casks that are highly regarded among whiskey aficionados. More recently it also released a distinctive Kentucky Rye Barrel Finish London Dry Gin. 

The bourbon and rye whiskeys are 100% Kentucky made. "We produced our first barrel of whiskey the same way we will produce every barrel: from our own mix of carefully selected grains, the mash fermented at ideal temperatures to preserve exactly the flavors and aromas we’re aiming for, then distilled without compromise," they note.

The bourbon is not your garden variety stuff, thanks to a unique mash bill made up of 70% corn, 10% malted wheat, 10% honey malted barley, and 10% malted barley, and is the only bourbon on the market with barley as the secondary flavoring grain.

The Derby cocktail meanwhile is called the Looking Glass, and is made with a 19th-century syphon that releases a plume of fog as the ingredients are steeped. The recipe features a blend of Rabbit Hole's Sherry Cask bourbon, D’Aincourt Cognac, and Bowmore 1989 Silver Seal 21-Year-Old single malt, with a dash of Belgian chocolate bitters. Just the thing if your horse crosses the finish line first and you have a cool $1,100 to spare.