Rabbit Hole & Diesel Cigars Collaborate: First Rye Barrel Aged Cigars

Rabbit Hole and Diesel Cigars Collaboration.

What is it about cigar smokin’ and whiskey drinkin’ that seem to go so heavily hand-in-hand while watching the ponies run? Literally. There is a nostalgic catharsis about it all. When the sticks are lit and the air hums with that sweet tinge of faint tobacco burn – win or lose at the track, you’ve had a day.

In the game of life, especially the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, it’s all about the finish. That’s why we felt given the timing of the 149th Kentucky Derby just a day away, a little enlightenment of a cigar that embodies the finish of American Whiskey.

Diesel Cigars and Rabbit Hole Distillery are marking their third collaboration with Diesel Whiskey Row Founder’s Collection Boxergrail, an cigar that brings together two masters of their respective crafts: AJ Fernandez and Kaveh Zamanian, founder and whiskey maker of Rabbit Hole.

Diesel Whiskey Row Founder’s Collection was developed by Justin Andrews, blended by AJ Fernandez and handcrafted at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez in Estelí, Nicaragua. The cigar features a proprietary aging process developed by AJ.

The limited-edition blend is centered on a proprietary Nicaraguan Habano binder leaf selected for aging in the handcrafted wood fired, toasted and charred #3 new American oak barrels that aged Rabbit Hole Founder’s Collection Boxergrail Rye Whiskey. Per the brand, the barrels impart nuances of caramel, black pepper, vanilla and a hint of citrus on the binder leaves. When blended with spicy Nicaraguan Habano filler tobacco and crowned with a rich Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, the Maduro cigar delivers a full sensory experience.

Justin Andrews said, “With Diesel Whiskey Row Founder’s Collection, we set out to take our partnership with Rabbit Hole to a deeper level. Aging tobacco in rye barrels is completely unique in the handmade cigar space and I believe that we have created a cigar that will stand apart in a crowded marketplace. AJ, Kaveh and I agree this blend is one of the most versatile and provocative cigars we’ve ever smoked, and we believe it’s because we were guided by a mutual commitment to innovation. By giving the binder leaf its own personality and introducing the complexity of rye whiskey, we’ve created what we believe to be the ultimate cigar, one that pairs beautifully yet also makes a statement on its own.”

Kaveh Zamanian, founder and whiskey maker of Rabbit Hole said, “As a longtime cigar smoker, I believe that pairing cigars with whiskey is an art. It is for this reason that I instinctually selected our highly-regarded Boxergrail Founder’s Collection Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey casks for this collaboration. I knew that these exceptional barrels would lend intriguing notes to the tobacco and would elevate the smoking experience. Given Rabbit Hole’s focus on bringing one-of-a-kind innovations to life, it is a pleasure to have played a role in introducing rye barrel aging to the handmade cigar category. I’m looking forward to sharing this great blend with cigar and whiskey enthusiasts across the country.”

Diesel Whiskey Row Founder’s Collection is being released in a singular frontmark called Boxergrail. The toro (6” x 52) is presented in elegant boxes that mirror the packaging of Rabbit Hole Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. The cigars will sell for $15.79 each, or $157.90 for a ten-count box and will be available Kentucky Derby weekend.


Diesel Whiskey Row debuted in June 2018 and marked the first collaboration between Diesel and Rabbit Hole. It was the first cigar to feature a binder leaf aged in Rabbit Hole’s bourbon barrels and generated a significant following among cigar lovers nationwide. The partnership expanded in 2019 with the launch of Diesel Whiskey Row Sherry Cask which was met with critical acclaim.

About Diesel

Handcrafted by artisans in Esteli, Nicaragua, Diesel cigars are “bold by design.” The brand challenges the current conventions of the handmade cigar category through the bold, unapologetic style of its Cigar Master, AJ Fernandez. Diesel cigars are unified by their deeply complex flavor which is achieved through AJ’s steadfast adherence to time honored cigar making techniques. The full-time brand portfolio includes Diesel Grind, Whiskey Row, Whiskey Row Sherry Cask, Estelí Puro and Disciple.

About Rabbit Hole

Diversifying the spirits landscape with one-of-a-kind whiskeys is Kentucky-based Rabbit Hole. The brand was established in 2012 by Founder and Whiskey Maker Kaveh Zamanian who was inducted into the Kentucky Distillers Association’s Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2022. Rabbit Hole unifies heritage techniques with innovative mash bills and out-of-the-box thinking to create original works of ultra-premium American whiskey. Through its signature bottlings – Cavehill Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Heigold Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Dareringer Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in PX Sherry Casks, Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey and its exclusive Founder’s Collection series, Rabbit Hole turns the whiskey world on its tail, inviting imbibers to take a sip and dive down the rabbit hole. The brand’s iconic, awe-inspiring distillery, named the “architectural icon of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail,” produces 1.7 million proof gallons annually and showcases the entire process of crafting bourbon from grain to bottle, unlike any other distillery in the country. Rabbit Hole was recently ranked the “fastest growing bourbon” by AC Nielsen (2022).

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