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New Riff High Note Collection – Bohemian Wheat Bourbon Review

New Riff High Note Collection – Bohemian Wheat Bourbon Review

I swear, all of my New Riff reviews start off the same way. I sing them praises about the unique things that they’re doing with their spirits and the high quality of their processes. Then I go on to give them an average score for whatever it is that I was tasting.

It’s not that I set out looking to do this, it’s just that my expectations are so high. They seem like the type of distillery that has done all of their homework. Their new whiskies seem creative and well-thought out. They are open and transparent with all of their methods and recipes. They deserve higher scores and more praise, but there’s just something missing.

I’m not alone on my feeling of wanting something more from them. Plenty of my enthusiast friends are also waiting for the other shoe to drop. They want the big bold flavors that New Riff is capable of. But they want them to be perfectly in sync with the polish and poise that large distilleries are known for. But for all these years, the secret ingredient their whiskies have been missing boils down to age. They’ve just been too young.

Thankfully, New Riff is finally realizing its potential as their products begin to reach respectable ages. The last 6 months have seen New Riff introduce two 8-year-old High Note collections as well as an 8-year-old bourbon. Good times feel like they’re right around the corner.

What is the High Note Collection?

Each year, New Riff releases at least one “Whiskey Riff.” This is their attempts to create something new and unusual that probably hasn’t been done by any other distillery. It’s similar to the Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection or Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection. Previous Whiskey Riffs have been things like Backsetter, Red Turkey Wheat or Balboa Rye Whiskey. Most of those have been released at the 4-or-5-year-old mark. But many enthusiasts wondered what they could become with a little more age and proof. New Riff High Note Collection is their answer.

In 2023, New Riff introduced two of those Whiskey Riffs with more age and more proof. They had let barrels of their 100% malted rye and barrels used in their “Maltster Wheated Bourbon” age to the 8-year mark and then bottled them at cask strength. Enthusiasts were hyped.

New Riff 8-Year-Old Bohemian Wheat Bourbon

Today I’ll be looking at the 8-Year-Old version of Maltster. In High Note form, New Riff calls it “Bohemian Wheat Bourbon” instead. This bourbon was unique because the mash bill technically contained only two grains: corn and wheat. This is a surprisingly rare mash for bourbons because almost all of them use at least three grains.

Malt – which is usually malted (sprouted) barley – is a vital component in providing enzymes that break down starches into easily digestible sugars for the yeast to consume. New Riff decided that the malt component that they’d use for this bourbon would be wheat instead of barley. This is extremely rare to see. The wheate they used was inspired from the distilling team’s favorite Bavarian wheated beers – which would explain the use of Bohemian and “dark” varieties.

New Riff‘s standard bourbon mash bill is 65% corn, 30% rye and 5% malted barley. But for their Maltster/High Note Bohemian Wheat Bourbon the ratios were changed slightly to 65% corn, 18% Bohemian floor-malted wheat, 10% unmalted wheat and 7% dark wheat. After aging for 8 years, the barrels were dumped and the final proof ended up being 117.9. As with all New Riff releases, it was bottled without chill filtration.

So how’s it taste? Let’s find out. A quick shout out to my friend James for his help in making this review happen. As usual, I sampled this neat in a glencairn.

Tasting Notes

Nose: This is one of the more unique bourbons I’ve smelled this year. There is chocolate everywhere my nose looks. I find notes of chocolate covered pretzels and Portillos’ Chocolate Cake. I can definitely fine scents of a dark, wheated beer that the creators were probably going for. There’s even a hint of soy sauce (?!). The only other notes that I can find that bring me back around to the realization I’m still smelling a bourbon are vanilla and a bit of caramel. This is hugely satisfying to nose – there’s not much else like it out there.

Palate: Each sip is full-bodied and rich. There’s also a decent amount of spice up front. Sometimes I forget just how much spice a wheated bourbon can carry until I taste it. But don’t take that as me saying it’s overpowering – it’s not – it’s just an observation. Overall, there’s a nice smoldering character with ground pepper, cinnamon and maybe some chili powder.

One of the things that carries over from the nose is just how similar this is to a very strong, non-funky dark European beer. Flavors of Cocoa Puffs are everywhere. For fruit, I get the occasional raisin flavor but sometimes it comes off like a grape brandy. And while I don’t quite find any oaky tannins, I do find some aerosol wood cleaner product here and there. Weird, right?

Finish: The finish is more of the same from the palate. A rich, oily texture settles on my tongue while chocolate is everywhere. I would best describe the chocolate like Whoppers (malted milk balls). Also vanilla hangs around at the end. It’s a really enjoyable sip from start to finish.


Score: 8/10

This is by far one of the most intriguing – and delicious – bourbons to come out of New Riff. It’s also one of my favorite Whiskey Riffs that they’ve produced. The flavor is unbelievable and everything is so well balanced. On top of all that, this bourbon impressed me by showcasing flavors that were new to me in a whiskey. Rarely have I ever had the amount of chocolate in a wheated bourbon that I did with this one. It was a treat from start to finish.

The only ding I would give Bohemian Wheat is that I wanted it to taste just a little bit more like a bourbon. It was hard to find much barrel influence at all which is odd for being eight years old. Does it need even more time in the barrel? Maybe. If it eventually matured into an oaky chocolate bomb, I could see it becoming an absolute legend. Could New Riff still have some of these barrels aging in their warehouse? I hope so! A future release at 12 years old would be a bucket-list bourbon for sure.

Final Thoughts

No Whiskey Riff product has ever impressed me the way that this High Note Bohemian Wheat Bourbon did. From start to finish, it was pure enjoyment. I don’t think I need to recount my favorite parts from the tasting notes, but I hope you could sense my excitement while I was writing them.

So where to go from here? Well I think it’s obvious that I’m even more interested in tasting the other High Note Collection release (which is an 8 year old 100% Malted Rye). After that, I would hope that they eventually release all of their Whiskey Riffs in High Note form. I’d personally love to taste a Backsetter Bourbon or Rye with an extra 3 or 4 years to it. I would even believe that Balboa Rye would finally live up to its potential. Really, the sky is the limit and I’m happy to finally find a New Riff product that appeals to me this much. Keep ’em coming!

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