New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Review [In Depth]
New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon
New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Details
Distillery: New Riff
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 65% corn, 30% rye, 5% barley
Aged: 4 years in virgin American white oak
Color: 1.3/2.0 on the color scale (russet muscat)
From the New Riff website:
“New Riff Distilling’s core Bourbon expression is a genuinely high-rye, full bodied whiskey offering savory, spicy character, bottled at Barrel Proof without Chill Filtration. Featuring a mash bill of non-GMO grains at 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley, it represents a new riff on Kentucky’s most hallowed whiskey traditions. Aged four years in 53-gallon toasted and charred new oak barrels, there are no shortcuts taken in our production. All New Riff whiskeys are made with the full sour mash Kentucky Regimen; all carry an age statement, and are always bottled without chill filtration.”
new riff single barrel bourbon overview
New Riff, founded in 2014, is part of the new breed of distilleries that’s starting to make a name for itself. With a nearly national presence in retail, online, and local whiskey groups, word is getting out about what they do.
Like Wilderness Trail, New Riff is located in the heart of bourbon country (Newport, KY) and has a prolific single barrel bourbon and rye program that’s available to virtually everyone. To my understanding, they make it pretty easy to pick and buy a barrel, contrary to what the major distilleries are doing today.
In this review, I explore a New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon, barrel 16-10806, that was selected by the distillery and not a retailer. This single barrel was distilled in spring 2016 and bottled in fall 2020, making it a hair over 4 years old, comparable to what I’ve seen elsewhere, although the 51.9% ABV is on the lower-end of the spectrum.
New Riff bourbon’s mashbill is one of the more unique features, containing 30% rye when most bourbons have 10-25%, so I expect that high-rye content to bring something different to the glass. That said, Four Roses’ “B” mashbill has 35% rye and one of MGP’s frequently used bourbon mashbills has 36% rye. New Riff Bourbon sits with pretty great company.
All that said, let’s dive into my first experience with New Riff in this New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon review.
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new riff single barrel bourbon smell
New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon is definitely interesting to start and the 30% rye in the mashbill makes itself immediately known. It’s a mix of honey, caramel, freshly opened tangerine, dried citrus peel, and a little vanilla, with a ton of herbal dill, fennel, and thyme with a little less licorice.
There’s so much herbal, vegetal, and earthy rye influence, with some bonus tropical notes in this New Riff bourbon. The nose is pleasant and bold, but it still lacks variety and depth. The list of traits is growing, but they’re not quite fully developed yet.
new riff single barrel bourbon taste & aftertaste
New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Rating
To be frank, New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon still smells and tastes fairly young, but 4 years of barrel aging has already created a strong foundation that outperforms its age and makes me optimistic for what is to come.
The high rye bourbon mashbill is already different, but it also carries over into the big vegetal, earthy, and herbal personality to go along with the usual bourbon honey, vanilla, and citrus that meld together to create this interesting bourbon. This New Riff bourbon already has its own unique personality.
I imagine that there may be a lot of variation between these single barrels, so this review is definitely not the end-all of New Riff bourbon reviews. This review moreso provides guidance on what you might expect from their other single barrels. The main takeaway is that New Riff bourbon is trending in the right direction.
If you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels and avoid shattered glass. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.
BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)
Meet the Author: Alex
I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.
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