Rabbit Hole Debuts Rare Founder’s Collection Mizunara Whiskey

Hard-to-find Japanese white oak beautifully finishes Kentucky straight bourbon.

(Rabbit Hole Distillery)

Ask any whiskey expert what really makes the difference in crafting a whiskey (time, barrel location, mash bill, barrel wood), and you might get as vast an array of answers. But one thing’s clear: Certain barrel wood is truly rare, like elusive Japanese mizunara oak.

It’s that oak that powers the craft behind the latest Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection release, as the mizunara white oak from Hokkaido in which it was finished has long been sought after in the whiskey world for its distinctive properties in barrel aging.

(Rabbit Hole Distillery)

“Mizu” means water, while “nara” translates to oak,” and the porous nature of the wood makes it much more difficult for barrel coopers to work with. And another catch? It can take anywhere from 200 to 500 years for mizunara oak to reach full maturity. Your average whiskey barrel it decidedly is not.

The brainchild of Rabbit Hole Distillery Founder and Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame Whiskey Maker Kaveh Zamanian, the whiskey maker and his team use the Founder’s Collection to “develop unique expressions that showcase his creativity and commitment to the artistry of whiskey making.”

In this instance, that means choosing barrels 15-year Kentucky straight bourbon from Zamanian’s personal collection, then finishing that liquid in the coveted mizunara oak.

Rabbit Hole has experimented in the past with unique processes like using double chocolate malt in its mashbill, also an envy-inducing part of the Founder’s Collection.

(Rabbit Hole Distillery)

Mizunara casks represent a new frontier entirely that’s coming on the heels of the 2021 release of Rabbit Hole’s Mizunara expression.

“For years, I’ve been fascinated by the terroir and traditions of fine whiskey making,” Zamanian said. “When I finally got my hands on a handful of elusive casks from a small family-owned cooperage in Japan, I knew I wanted to create something special to honor the mystique and beauty of Hokkaido’s oak trees.”

Rabbit Hole Distillery notes that “each sip of Mizunara greets you with a nose of nutmeg, allspice, walnut and leather, balanced by notes of mint, honey, wood and orange,” fittingly nuanced and subtle notes reflective of rare 15-year Kentucky straight bourbon aged in even rarer casks.

For those eager to taste such impressive and rare whiskey craftsmanship, a mere 2,200 bottles of Mizunara are available for purchase at Rabbit Hole Distillery and in select markets nationwide, and some are also available online at the distillery’s Web site.