We all have wild ideas. We don’t all chase them.
Kaveh Zamanian did chase. First, a Kentucky woman & then her native spirit…straight down the Rabbit Hole.
A psychologist by trade, living the scotch-loving life in Chicago, Illinois, Kaveh met his bride, Heather, & following her lead started to explore the bourbon life. Time passed & his whiskey affection became obsession & the dream to distill began. Years later, after putting it all on the line, Rabbit Hole Distillery is alive & well in NuLu, bringing fresh recipes, bright flavors & an ultra-tech take on production to the bourbon scene in Louisville.
When construction began on Jefferson St. the neighborhood was abuzz with speculation about this new brand on the bourbon block. Rabbit Hole product had hit the shelves before their state of the art production & visitor experience space was complete. We’d seen their name sponsoring Jimmy Can’t Dance nights & knew there was an A-List something happening there on Derby Eve, but we had no idea what fresh energy they would bring to the bourbon community.
The Rabbit Hole team celebrates & honors the legacy of the industry while taking an innovative approach to the process of production & community engagement. One stand out difference is their lack of a Master Distiller. They know the right professional oversight is critical to quality control, but they choose to utilize a rotation of team members monitoring the automated production system, ensuring adherence to recipe specifications & industry standards. This, in turn, allows them to invest human capital into other avenues of creativity, like curating the ultimate visitor engagement experience, from tour to tasting.
Walking into Rabbit Hole, you can’t help but feel welcome. The open air side of the retail space is inviting & the aesthetic is clean, but comfortable. It is obvious from the wave of genuine smiles greeting you that everyone working enjoys being there & is happy to share it with their guests.
From the start of the tour, the Rabbit Hole values are clear & consistent. The entrance wall boasts the phrase, “There’s no going back,” their company’s driving mantra calling every team member to an attitude of being all-in, every day. Turn the corner & be reminded that “Production is repetetive, creativity is personal” & in another space, “Bourbon is a verb.” All we can say to that is…AMEN.
In fact, everything is a verb inside Rabbit Hole. Even the art, commissioned by the company to enrich the visitor experience, calls guests to action by provoking reflection & introspection about relevant issues in society today. “Executive Order” created by American-born artist Jeremy Dean is a woven expression of the American flag created from the fibers of the countries impacted by the 2017 travel ban. With his personal heritage from that part of the world, it is important to Kaveh & his team that guests consider what all would be absent from their country & their city without the enrichment of other cultures & their people.
On the top floor, the Overlook bar, tasting room & event space includes additional art reflecting on racism in our nation. “Bridge (Victory)” by American-born artist Glenn Kaino is a powerful sculptural piece that tells the story of the memorable moment of the 1968 Summer Olympic Games when runner Tommie Smith raised his fist on the podium after winning gold. The mirrored backing of the piece amplifies the image into eternity, much like the issue itself & the impact of those iconic moments in history. Rabbit Hole is truly a Distillery Gallery…maybe the first of its kind.
The production space itself is impressive beyond the tech. The glass walls provide an incredible view of the city as you walk through the fermenters breathing the sweet & sour aging of the mash. Standing in this room you feel a true marriage of tradition & modernity. The gorgeous Vendome copper still, a fixture in distilleries since the early 1900s, sits across the way from their very modern take on the Spirit Safe, a tradition connected to quality control laws begun in the 1800s…& they all get along.
Rabbit Hole proves with every intentional detail that their innovation is built on a respectful foundation, & their evolution of the bourbon business does not take away from the beauty of its past. We welcome them to The Ville & raise our glass to their leadership in the craft distillery scene, where they are pushing the boundaries & raising the bar, while raising a glass to those that came before & those that will follow.
Yes Louisville would like to thank Kaveh, Kristie & Matt for their hospitality! We will be back…Cheers!