Here we have a refreshing change amid the long, endless, maddening aisle chock full of NDP American whiskey. (NDP = Non-Distiller Producer, or brands that do not distill their own whiskey.) Rabbit Hole started in 2012 by – yes – rebranding whiskey from New Riff distillery. However, they completed construction and opened their state-of-the-art Louisville distillery in 2018 and now produce all of their own whiskey.
Boxergrail is a Kentucky straight rye whiskey made from a mashbill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley (for enzymes). The mash is aged “over 3 years” in new charred American oak barrels and then bottled at a robust 47.5% ABV. The rye is not chill filtered.
Nose: Fruit-forward rye, with a ton of cherry pie filling, aniseed, Red Vines, tutti frutti, dried apple slices, and apple brandy. Deeper in the glass there’s a suggestion of baking spices (cloves, cinnamon, star anise). If anything, it gets fruitier with a rest in the glass.
Palate: Thin body. Moderate tongue burn. Candied apple, many of the fruits from the aroma, cinnamon red hots, and a twist of pine resin. Very consistent with the aroma.
Finish: Medium-long. Tannic, mouth-drying, with little to no bitterness. The cinnamon continues through, and it finishes with apple peel.
With Water: Several drops of water add a bit of tartness to the aroma but otherwise doesn’t change the profile. The palate feels thinner, but the burn is tamed a bit. The finish also picks up a bit of tartness and is livelier. Water not necessary, but offers a slight improvement.
Overall: Quite excellent, especially considering the price. I like this almost as much as the much pricier Hochstadter’s, and maybe a bit more than my house rye Rittenhouse 100. If you like rye – especially if you like fruit-forward rye that doesn’t break the bank – you will enjoy this.
A word on price: When I picked up this bottle in Costco in early 2023, it was $36. I remember thinking “yeah, that’s about right for uppity craft rye” and bought it. Today, while writing this review, I found that prices nearly everywhere have jumped above $44, in some places above $50! I don’t know if I just got an awesome deal and didn’t know it at the time, or if inflation is still trucking along 6 months later even after the initial price hikes. Pre-2020 me would have considered $36 a very reasonable price for this level of quality, but would have scoffed at $50. Post-Covid me doesn’t really have a clue anymore.