new riff maltster wheat review

New Riff Maltster Malted Wheat Bourbon


Distillery: New Riff

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 50%

Composition: 65% corn, 18% bohemian floor-malted wheat, 10% unmalted wheat, 7% dark wheat

Aged: 5 years in virgin American white oak

Color: 1.4/2.0 on the color scale (tawny)

Price: $50

From the New Riff website:

“Introducing Maltsters, a project that explores different malted grains used in a Bourbon recipe. Our distilling team delved into their background as craft brewers and pulled out of their hat a couple of magical recipes: Malted Rye Bourbon and Malted Wheat Bourbon. These unique mashbills offer bold interpretations of traditional Bourbon styles, from a refined and sophisticated rye experience to a darker and deeper version of wheated Bourbon.”

Company Website

new riff maltster wheat overview

Craft distilleries are doing some interesting stuff, and New Riff is no exception. Their Single Barrel Bourbon is really interesting and one of the earthiest bourbons I’ve ever had. Now, New Riff has expanded their offerings into include the “Maltster” line, experimenting with malted rye and wheat in two separate releases.


Here, I have New Riff Maltster Malted Wheat, a unique wheated bourbon made from only corn and wheat (no barley), and currently the only wheated bourbon in their lineup. Not only that, the 35% wheat is made up of an even more unique blend of wheats, but I don’t understand the differences. Last but not least, at 5 years old it’s one of New Riff’s oldest homemade releases to date. Yay for their bourbon getting older!


Let’s find out if all this unique wheatery creates an exciting experience in this New Riff Maltster Malted Wheat bourbon review. 

new riff maltster wheat smell

Ooooh, New Riff Maltster Malted Wheat has a really nice dark caramel, roasted grain, baked apple coated in cinnamon and clove, freshly peeled mandarin oranges, vanilla, and roasted oak. There’s a lot of clove, which I’ve also found in other wheated bourbons and wheat whiskey. And with not much heat, this smells really nice.


Swirling gives off a similar dark caramel, dried apple chips with a lot of clove and cinnamon, orange peel, vanilla buttercream, baked bread, roasted oak, cocoa powder, and hints of dried hay. It’s like a spiced apple pie-with some orange peel garnish. Maltster wheat, at 5 years old, already smells great, but it doesn’t really unravel multiple layers over time like a more complex whiskey would. Still, it comfortably lives in the same realm as Buffalo Trace Kosher Wheat Recipe (7 years old) and Bernheim Wheat whiskey (also 7 years old), made by mega-distilleries.

new riff maltster wheat taste & aftertaste

There’s a nice and flavorful blend of dark honey, vanilla, baked apple stuck with a lot of cloves and a few sprinkles of cinnamon, orange peel, lightly bitter oak, and coffee grounds. I detect a slight sourness that could come from the wheat, partially unripe citrus, or even vanilla buttercream…I can’t quite tell. Even at 5 years old, I’m already getting some stronger roasted oak and wood spice notes.


“Chewing” gives me a lot of caramel and honey, vanilla buttercream, orange peel, baked apple with a lot of clove and cinnamon, roasted oak, and light grassiness and breadiness. The flavors and mouthfeel have a nice creaminess and viscosity, which is a nice added touch. New Riff Maltster Malted Wheat isn’t super complex per se, but it’s still quite rich and flavorful so I like how it tastes. It’s a very good wheated bourbon and I’m glad New Riff unleashed its experiment onto the world.


The finish has a light sourness (probably vanilla buttercream) intermingled with honey, orange peel, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, and clove. Like the flavors themselves, the finish is very clove-y. “Chewing” covers up some of that sourness with more honey, clove, vanilla, and oak tannins. Over time, it all leaves a gentle coating of clove, oak, and honey that lingers in my mouth for a while.

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Mid shelf+

Well well…I’m impressed with New Riff Maltster Malted Wheat Bourbon. It’s a rich caramel, orange, and apple dense bourbon with an extra dose of clove that continually reminds me that it’s heavily wheated. It may only be 5 years old, but it smells and tastes older than that, so New Riff did a great job making this delicious bourbon. The main thing holding this back from “Top Shelf” is the 100 proof, which saps some of the richness. This would have been amazing at cask strength, so New Riff please consider releasing that version sooner than later.


I paid $65 for this bottle, and while I overpaid a little, I’d probably buy it again given the chance. In the $50-70 range, the main competition I can think of is Maker’s Mark Cask Strength & Private Selects, Rebel Yell 10 Year, Larceny Barrel Proof, Old Elk Wheated Bourbon / Wheat Whiskey, Weller Antique 107, and Buffalo Trace Kosher Wheat Recipe. I’ve had everything except Larceny Barrel Proof and Old Elk, and New Riff Maltster Wheat holds its own and exceeds some of them (including Weller Antique 107). I don’t know if Maltster Wheat is going to be released more frequently, but I hope it comes back soon because this is my favorite New Riff whiskey to date and one I recommend to any wheated bourbon lover.

There’s a lot of great content to come, so consider supporting The Whiskey Shelf on Patreon. Support here.

Other Reviews

One Comment

Comments are closed.