Review: Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection Raceking Bourbon (2023)
Raceking, first released in 2020 as part of Rabbit Hole’s limited-edition Founder’s Collection series, will now be an annual fall release for the brand, marking the first consistent ultra-premium offering in their portfolio. As a reminder, this whiskey is bottled at cask strength and made from a unique five-grain mashbill that includes a small portion of chocolate wheat from Germany and chocolate barley from the United Kingdom. Founder Kaveh Zamanian had this to say about the now-permanent offering:
Creating Raceking was part art, part science and a true risk-reward proposition for us. I wanted to bring out unique flavors in the whiskey without any adulteration or flavoring, instead letting the malted grains and the way we cook and process them tell the story. Being able to execute this from a process standpoint and bringing the liquid to life was very challenging, so Raceking began as a small batch ‘experiment’ if you will. There was an element of uncertainty when we developed the recipe and the process, but the potential reward proved to be worth the risk as I had a hunch it would. Raceking represents our passion for creativity and innovation, and I’m especially proud that we will be able to release this special whiskey annually moving forward.
Let’s see how the latest release stacks up.
On the nose, the latest Raceking cuts a familiar figure to its predecessor with a delicate and dry chocolate dimension that eschews the sugary Hershey bar in favor of more refined and elegant baking cocoa and dark chocolate shavings. The smoke and tobacco, subtle in the original, are even softer here, but with time in the glass to open I still detect a bit of the same graham cracker and vanilla bean. The palate is similarly reminiscent, boasting early, dark notes of toasty chocolate malt, sweet barbecue burnt ends, and dark roast coffee beans. The oak, expressive and a bit drying with spice cabinet and vanilla bean, again helps to balance out some of the heavier chocolate elements before a long and subtly smoky finish arrives, accented with notes of chocolate-covered cherry and coffee grounds.
I originally recommended this one as an after dinner bourbon, but the latest edition shows a bit less candy bar quality and thus more versatility. With all those roast coffee notes swimming in my glass, one could even pair it with breakfast! Worth a $100 markup from the debut release? I’ll let you make that call.