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New Riff Single Barrel Rye Whiskey Review

New Riff Single Barrel Rye Whiskey Review

New Riff Distillery has been getting a lot of positive praise for a while now. Without getting into the specifics of what makes their operation so successful, let’s focus today on their Single Barrel program where their bourbon has been getting tons of accolades and has hundreds of stores and groups all around the Midwest lining up to pick out their own 4+ year old barrels.

In my experience with them, they’re excellent to buy now and are going to keep improving in the future. Let’s just hope that New Riff doesn’t go too crazy and sell off all of these great barrels now for something that could turn into truly exceptional whiskey later.

New Riff Rye

But in the shadow of its big brother, New Riff Rye is warming up to be a powerhouse in the rye market. I have conducted a triple side-by-side with their Bottled-in-Bond Rye and saw it easily defeat Old Forester’s Rye and Rittenhouse Rye. And although I don’t have a competitor for it today (mainly because I don’t have any 4 year old barrel strength ryes lying around), it doesn’t mean I won’t in the future.

The Rural Inn got their hands on a number of cases of a Single Barrel Rye, but Ray told me that they did not personally pick out this particular SiB Rye.  New Riff has not yet announced when they will allow stores to pick out their own SiB Rye yet, but for now, let’s just be happy that this is for sale to the public. Bottled at 113.2 proof with a mashbill of 95% rye and 5% malted rye and aged for pretty much 4 years on the dot, how is their new rye shaping up? Let’s take a look. I sampled this neat and in a glencairn. And if you’re wondering, the brisket was eaten afterwards.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A pleasantly sweet nose for a younger rye.  Toasted brown sugar, toasted oak, citrus pledge wood cleaner and malty grains give heft and sweetness to the nose.  This is all followed up with warm baking spices like light cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

Palate: There’s no confusing this with a barely legal Kentucky rye whiskey!  Rye spice, peppermint, cherry Jolly Ranchers, some slight dill, scorched caramel and a somewhat telltale young note of yeasty rolls all gives this a rye a pleasant mouthfeel and taste.

Finish: Dill becomes more prominent than on the palate, but there’s also sweet mint, peppercorns, ginger root, drying oak, cherry cough syrup and Riccola Honey lozenges.

Score: 7.2/10


New Riff Single Barrel Rye Review 2

Overall, this is a great rye that I’m happy to have.  Everything is coming along so well with how this profile tastes at 4 years old, that it’s almost like it’s coming from a distillery that’s been open for decades rather than one that is literally only 4-5 years old. 

The rye whisky’s only weak point is the somewhat narrow band of flavors on the palate, but the nose and finish help you to forget about that. The nose is reminiscent of a 4 to 7 year old MGP 95/5 Rye. The finish also has a lot in common with MGP’s most famous rye mashbill.  This all makes sense as New Riff had hired Seagram’s (now MGP) former Master Distiller Larry Ebersold to teach them the techniques of distilling from his former days in Indiana. 

This really makes sense if you begin to taste both New Riff bourbon and rye whiskey side by side with younger MGP distillate, as both have a lot of similarities (and this is not a bad thing!)  

At $55, I’d say that this bottle is a good value for someone who might be looking at High West’s Rendezvous Rye (around $50-60) or a standard Whistlepig 10 year Rye (upwards of $70).  It’s also basically the same price as Bone Snapper Single Barrel Ryes (roughly $56 for 3-6 year old MGP juice and ~120 proof).  Kentucky barely-legal ryes (usually around 51% rye content) are a decent gateway rye whiskey for most folks, but a sipper like this very-high rye whiskey shouldn’t chase away the newcomers either.  I highly recommend this bottle for rye whiskey newbies and experienced rye drinkers alike.

Ratings Breakdown

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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