By Richard Thomas
Louisville’s Rabbit Hole got its start by launching a trio of sourced whiskeys concurrent with beginning work on their distillery. That line consists of a five year old, four grain Bourbon (wheat + double barley) and a 95% Rye not sourced from MGP.
The third entry is a five year old Bourbon finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks, bottled at 93 proof (46.5% ABV). The stock for this finished Bourbon differs from their mainline expression, made from a more conventional wheated mash bill.
Sherry cask finishes are becoming increasingly popular in America, although they have been a staple in Scotland and Ireland for three decades now. In most instances, especially in the States, the cask in question held or was seasoned with dry Oloroso Sherry. Rabbit Hole chose Pedro Ximenez (or “PX”) in this case, the sweetest of all Sherries, and the butts in question were used for 30 years.
This five year old, Sherried Bourbon has a middle amber, more coppered than reddened, appearance. A coating of the glass prompts plenty of thick tears to roll down the sides.
The Sherry butt sits on top of the nose of this whiskey, with the first things hitting my nostrils to be a rich, wine and raisins aroma and a trace of musty wood. The customary caramel comes forward only later, with both air and some study, and along with it some cherry sweetness.
The flavor is like a three-fingered pinch of trail mix that brought up lots of raisins, dried cherries and dried currants, but only a couple of shavings of roasted almonds. As on the nose, there is a thick and dominant Sherry influence that elbows aside the native Bourbon flavors, leaving just a note of vanilla. It’s also just a touch oaky. The finish is light, with the slightest touch of dryness, and fades away quickly.
I like Sherried whiskeys, and this one has a thick, sweet PX overlay. As much as I enjoyed it, in truth the overlay was so thick that it left little room for the native Bourbon flavors to shine, and nearly overwhelmed them. With a little more balance, I would have given the whiskey an A-, but as it is it merits a solid B+.
A sampling of online retailers shows one should expect to pay about $80 a bottle for Rabbit Hole’s PX Sherry Finish Bourbon.