Rabbit Hole Distilling, a long-awaited, 55,000-square-foot production facility, event space, tasting room and bar on Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail, is slated to celebrate its grand opening in May. At the helm is Kaveh Zamanian, who hopes his venture and award-winning spirits are a veritable game-changer for American whiskey.
What is it about whiskey that excites you?
I was taken aback by the fact that a lot of Americans don’t know much about Bourbon, yet the history of whiskey in this country is a consistent part of our culture and our politics. Though I’m not a big fan of nationalism, I wanted to be on the forefront of creating something that invokes a sense of pride, something that’s communal and beautiful.
You have said you hope your distillery will modernize and make Bourbon more inclusive. Can you elaborate?
Part of it has to do with the design. We’ve built a place where visitors can come in and get an inside look at the manufacturing side, from soup to nuts. We want to demystify the whiskey-making process… There is obviously a hospitality component, but the manufacturing space is also inviting.
The custom-made copper still is a focal point of the property. What went through your mind as you watched it moving down Main Street last August?
That day was a culmination of a five-year project—a lot of work, and a lot of long days. Seeing it ultimately come together was like a dream. Vendome [Copper & Brass Works] makes gorgeous pieces of machinery. To finally see our still was spectacular. I had goosebumps.
How is the cocktail service incorporated into the space?
Proprietors, LLC, the company behind Death & Co., is spearheading the cocktail program at the distillery and event center to showcase whiskey’s range and how it plays out in a cocktail. They are working closely with the spirits we are producing, as well as with the culinary side. Our bar is open during the evenings for more of a traditional cocktail experience, and the Death & Co. team will also be available to create custom drinks for private events.
What do you hope the addition of Rabbit Hole brings to Louisville, and to Bourbon country as a whole?
I hope it puts Louisville on the map in a way it hasn’t been. It’s a spectacular food town with a lot of depth, but we hadn’t found our sweet spot. Now we have: It’s producing Bourbon.