A popular question among whiskey groups these days is “which new (craft) distilleries are making the best whiskey out there?” The topic is usually tough to pin down because many craft distilleries are so regional. But whatever group I’m in when I hear this question come up, there is one distiller that is always mentioned: New Riff.
If you’ve never heard of New Riff, they are located in Newport, KY right across the river from Cincinnati. Their methods and mashbills may look a little familiar because their founder poached a big name from LDI/MGP early on in their process: Larry Ebersold. Larry guided the young start-up through the ins and outs of fermentation, mashbill selection and distillation. In fact, their mashbills may look extremely familiar to MGP fans. New Riff actually sourced MGP whiskey for a few years under the name “OKI” while their own distillate was aging. But once their bourbon and rye turned four years old, they let the floodgates open and introduced us to their take on these whiskies.
New Riff’s Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey
New Riff’s Bottled in Bond Rye Whiskey was bottled as close to the 4 year old mark as they could. But the one difference they made to their mashbill was to substitute the 5% malted barley with malted rye (technically making this a 100% rye mashbill). They also bottled it without any chill filtration either, which delivers a fuller, richer flavor. How does it taste though? Let’s find out. I sampled this neat and from a Glencairn.
Nose: The MGP similarities are immediately apparent. There are loads of sweet cinnamon bread and peppermint followed by some great herbal notes of tarragon, cloves and pine needles. I’m really enjoying how much sweetness I can detect. It’s like the air is made out of vanilla buttercream.
Palate: If I thought the nose was the sweetest part of this dram, the flavors on my tongue quickly brought me back to reality. Loads of dark fruits, caramel and tart raspberries start out. It’s all mingled with a nice amount of cinnamon, anise and white pepper that add spice and heat. But the heat is very well controlled and balanced throughout
Finish: As soon as you swallow, all heat fades away nicely. Werther Original Caramel Candies keep the finish sweet and fresh cut grass, mint, and menthol round out the traditional high-rye notes. Unfortunately, there is a touch of rye bitterness that lurks here and there, but it’s not intrusive.
This is a young rye whiskey that impressed me with its poise and polish. Normally, craft rye whiskies are still jam packed with herbal and botanical notes and are hot and spicy because they haven’t developed a sweetness yet. But New Riff’s entry level rye whiskey showed that it can hang with the big boys of Kentucky and Indiana (like Old Forester, Bulleit and Rittenhouse).
I have high expectations that as this ages, we’re going to start to see even bigger and better flavors coming out of these bottles. But for now, the only negative I can think of is the price for this is still somewhat high ($40-45). The packaging somewhat makes up for this though, as the competitors I just talked about tend to have screw caps and simple paper labels. But New Riff’s raised glass surface and black paint integrates both old school looks with a modern sleek design.
This is a rye whiskey that would do just as well sipped neat as it would mixed into a cocktail and can impress at a party as well. This is why I think that New Riff’s rye whiskey makes it the “craft distillery” to look out for in the next decade.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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