How Rabbit Hole’s Founder Defied The Odds

It’s no secret that whiskey, while entering America through northern settlements, has strong roots in southern tradition. And, while whiskey started in Europe, Bourbon is something purely American in nature spiritually as well as legally. And, that’s exactly what makes the story of Kaveh Zamanian, Rabbit Hole’s founder, all the more impressive.

Kaveh originally had no ties to the spirits industry. He came with his family from Iran when he was just a teenager and studied to eventually become a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. While very successful in his field, there was an event that led him down the rabbit hole and propelled him towards his whiskey-centric future.

Headshot of Kaveh Zamanian

Kaveh met his wife, Heather, who was a Louisville native. And, after 11 years of marriage, they decided to move back to Louisville to be closer to Heather’s family. It was a move that would forever alter the trajectory of Kaveh’s life.

Kaveh fell in love once more after moving to Louisville. This time, it was with Bourbon.

His calling to Bourbon was so great that he stepped away from his successful career to pursue creating a distillery. However, in a sea of southern heritage stories, Kaveh was carving out something new. As an immigrant, he had no ties to Southern American heritage or even the spirits industry for that matter. He was simply guided by love, conviction, and passion. And, he’s a testament to why those can be three of the most powerful forces in the whiskey industry.

Kaveh’s drive to create something new and challenge expectations had him testing countless grains, methods, and recipes to create something truly his own. Once he found his core portfolio of recipes, he started Rabbit Hole in 2012.

Kaveh Zamanian from Rabbit Hole Distillery

At the time, craft distilleries were still rare, and Kaveh went out onto a ledge. Where many craft distilleries would set up shop far away from larger players to help carve a local niche, Kaveh went straight to the heart. He set up shop right in the middle of the largest and most densely packed areas for bourbon production. It was a huge risk, as it could have been easy to be swept under the rug or lost in the crowd in Louisville. However, he persisted, persevered, and fought to claim his own territory in Kentucky.

Soon, people began to notice this distillery producing something different. Something that clearly was challenging the status quo. And, Kaveh was ready to capitalize on this opportunity to share his whiskey with the world.

It’s from there that he continued to challenge and help redefine the whiskey industry. Rabbit Hole, named for Kaveh’s dive down the proverbial “rabbit hole” of bourbon, has continued to expand its lineup with quality products. They’re now creating bourbons, rye whiskeys, barrel-aged gins, and more. Each one adds a unique dimension to their portfolio, which continues to challenge expectations.

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