Rabbit Hole Derringer-an interesting but expensive take on cask finished bourbon

I received a bottle of Rabbit Hole Derringer for Christmas, which is a Kentucky Straight wheated bourbon aged for four to five years in alligator char new oak casks and then finished in Pedro Ximenez Spanish Sherry casks for six months. I am a huge fan of sherry aged and sherry finished scotches. But, for me, bourbon finished in such casks is not something I have explored until recently.

Now, this bottle is not cheap. It is generally around $70. At that price point I would generally have expected something higher in proof than 93,but these days in the bourbon market are anything but normal. But, Pedro Ximenez sherry casks imported from Spain are not cheap either.

On the swirl, the legs are big and rich despite the proof. Color is a nice amber for this age of a bourbon showing the sherry cask influence. On the nose, dark fruits and a hint of pie crust, and you can tell that those Sherry barrels had more than a little sherry left in them. On the palate is big rich dark fruits, some vanilla, and really nice oak flavors. The flavors are really above proof; the alligator char and the sherry casks really did their thing. The finish is kind of short except for the lingering little bit of oak and fruit that hangs around for a while but it pisses me off a little bit while I am trying to savor the oak that the fruitiness hits me in the face refusing to be ignored.

So, my thoughts on this are as follows. If the world was awash with pretty good wheated bourbon at say $35 a bottle, I would think why not finish some of that in Sherry casks, add $30 to the price tag, and say this is interesting. However, in this universe, good ten year old wheated bourbon with nice oak notes is very hard to get. They honestly could have kept the price the same and skipped the Sherry casks and this would be the newest hot thing. Rabbit Hole Wheated would probably trade on the secondary market at high prices. All in all, the sherry finish is way overdone I think. I have had scotches aged in sherry casks for years that didn’t have this much sherry on them. And what I do taste of their oaked wheated bourbon is good.

But, it just lacks balance somehow. I know I am colored somewhat because my Dad bought a bottle of Glenmorangie LaSanta for my wife to enjoy during our Christmas Day lunch. I had a dram since it was a while since I tried this whiskey. It is aged for ten years in ex bourbon casks and two years in the same Sherry casks as Rabbit Hole Derringer. While I prefer Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban finished in port casks, LaSanta is the definition of perfectly balancing sherry versus bourbon cask influence on a whiskey. I waited a few days after writing this but before publising to try this whiskey again, and while the Sherry notes are toned down a hair, Derringer is still too sherry heavy.

I think Rabbit Hole should, if they don’t want to abandon sherry casks altogether, should maybe finish half of the bourbon for a batch in the sherry casks and let the other half continue to age in the alligator char new oak barrels for twelve years, and then blend them together. I think that would be really something. But, then again, Rabbit Hole 12 year old Wheated Bourbon would be a hot commodity.

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