When Kaveh Zamanian left his decades-long career as a clinical psychologist to pursue his growing passion for bourbon, his mission was singular: Develop one-of-a-kind expressions that pay homage to Louisville and American whiskey in innovative new ways.
The result was Rabbit Hole, Zamanian’s now award-winning distillery that offers four signature expressions of bourbon and rye, all distinct in their own way while maintaining the core pillars of quality and distinction that the whiskey maker set out to establish. For instance, each barrel is slowly and individually toasted before charring, a process that coaxes sugar from the wood to create a deep and complex flavor profile in each expression.
Where most distilleries focus on the back half of the whiskey-making process, Rabbit Hole focuses on the front half — the mash bill, a.k.a. Rabbit Hole’s recipes. A longtime supporter of the culinary arts, Zamanian emphasizes the link between the craft of whiskey-making and the detail-oriented approach chefs take while making magic in the kitchen. He’s a big fan of combining the two, especially in the form of a bespoke charcuterie board, which helps to enhance the experience of sipping Rabbit Hole neat or on the rocks.
The fun of charcuterie is in its seemingly endless possibilities. From cheeses and cured meats to creative accouterments, mixing savory, sweet, salty, and spicy elements and layering varied textures creates a dynamic spread that uniquely complements a quality pour of whiskey.
Whiskey and charcuterie are the dynamic duo of the culinary world, both brimming with nuanced flavor profiles that are a delight to experience. They complement each other, enhance the other’s tasting experience, and create a symphony of flavors that linger long after the last sip and nibble. The next time you uncap a bottle of Rabbit Hole, consider this your go-to guide to pairing your favorite pour with the perfect plate.
Rabbit Hole’s Boxergrail Sour Mash Rye pays homage to the time-honored tradition of sour mash whiskey-making and rich boxing culture and fighting spirit of Louisville, Ky. A blend of 95 percent rye and 5 percent malted barley sets the stage for a rich and spicy profile, with hints of brown sugar and butterscotch adding a layered sweetness. A slow cooking process provides maximum flavor, while added malted barley provides a velvety mouthfeel. Aged in new charred American white oak barrels, Boxergrail boasts a warm, lingering finish with notes of black tea and a sweet spice.
When pairing Boxergrail with a selection of charcuterie, accentuate the rye notes in the whiskey with crunchy rye crackers. For a palate cleanser between sips, opt for tangy pickles that refresh your taste buds. A flourish of whole grain or spicy mustard adds complexity and complements the whiskey’s spiciness. When it comes to cheese, pick a sharp, aged cheddar that can stand up to the robust flavors of rye whiskey. Add an extra layer of spice with peppercorn-crusted salami that mirrors the piquancy of the whiskey.
Round out your charcuterie board with high-quality dark chocolate with a cacao content of 70 percent — the bittersweet chocolate contrasts with the whiskey’s zing, providing a rich and indulgent element to the spread.
A signature of Rabbit Hole, this Four Grain Triple Malt Bourbon features an original four-grain mash bill of malted barley, malted wheat, malted rye, and corn — paying homage to the generations of proud Louisville distillers who planted the seeds from which modern whiskey making has blossomed. On the nose, autumnal notes of spice, smoke, and fresh apples invite you to take a sip, delivering honeyed citrus flavors that give way to a creamy vanilla. The malted quality of the grain adds a smooth, velvety texture that makes this whiskey perfect for enjoying neat or on the rocks.
The sweeter vanilla notes of Cavehill balance perfectly with the salty, delicate, and savory flavor of prosciutto. The fat content in prosciutto adds a rich and smooth texture that complements the whiskey’s mouthfeel. Add some fruit elements like fig preserves or jam, which deliver a nuanced sweetness and earthy flavor, as well as a layer of textural complexity. Slightly salty, super-creamy Brie cheese provides a flavor contrast without overpowering, and you can’t go wrong with some candied bacon for sweetness and extra salinity. Finally, fresh apple slices help to enhance the aromas of spices and apples in Cavehill.
Inspired by the story of a German immigrant stonecutter, Heigold’s bold High Rye mash bill goes against the grain with the addition of malted German rye in addition to corn and malted barley. The toasted and charred barrels give this expression a deep golden hue and a toasty sweetness that contrasts beautifully with light notes of white pepper.
The high rye content in the whiskey contributes to its pleasant spice, and pairing it with peppery sausages will only amplify those flavors. Balance it with a creamy, mild cheese such as Gouda, which has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that complements the caramel and vanilla notes in the bourbon. Next, add a layer of stone fruits — think peaches or plums — that offers a sweet and juicy profile, softening the whiskey’s angularity. Incorporating more than one stone fruit flavor adds depth to the overall tasting experience. For a year-round option, consider adding a dollop of apricot jam, which offers a sweet and slightly tart flavor. Peaches and plums, however, are in season just from mid-summer through early autumn.
Inspired by Zamanian’s wife, Heather, this remarkable whiskey represents the ignition of his passion for bourbon, one he owes to Heather and her Kentucky roots.
The elegant expression begins with a wheated mash bill, and an innovative twist comes from a finishing process in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, imparting a gourmand complexity that marries the sweetness of the sherry with the deep richness of the bourbon. The result is a sophisticated harmony of flavors coupled with warm and toasty almonds and vanilla.
The first step to pairing Dareringer with charcuterie is to layer in other points of nuanced sweetness. A small pot of honey adorned with a piece of honeycomb is a great place to start. The texture of the honeycomb adds an intriguing visual element to the board, while a customizable drizzle of honey over each bite delivers a golden finishing touch. Add more texture with candied nuts like pecans and almonds, emphasizing the bourbon’s sherry cask notes. Fresh cherries are a perfect addition to the board and are usually in season from late spring to early summer. For a wintry version, try adding a bowl of juicy pomegranate seeds, which are in season from September through December.
To finish things off, add a mild salami that contributes a hint of salinity without competing with the other elements of your charcuterie board. Genoa salami is a good choice, adding a rich, meaty flavor that balances out the Dareringer.
Regardless of which flavor combination you decide on for your next feast, don’t forget to pick up a bottle (or two) of Rabbit Hole to raise your celebrations to the next level. Invite friends and family to revel in the magic that unfolds when one-of-a-kind expressions of American whiskey meet charcuterie. Bourbon & Boards is an unexpected pairing that makes for memories — and flavors — that you won’t soon forget.
The article The Definitive Guide to Pairing Rabbit Hole Whiskey With Charcuterie appeared first on VinePair.