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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

New Riff Maltster Bourbon Whiskey

I've missed a couple of some of the special, seasonal releases in the past from New Riff Distillery. I was very excited to land this seasonal release - New Riff Maltster. This Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey is made with crystal malt and malted rye, and sounds perfect for this time of year, with shorter days and cooler nights.

T50 Malt Sets this Apart

New Riff’s website begins – Family-owned, Kentucky Bred … We answer to nothing but our relentless commitment to whiskey, quality and craft. No shareholders. No shortcuts. New Riff is based in Newport, KY and was founded in 2014 by Ken Lewis, a liquor retailer with more than 40 years of experience.

This current seasonal release plays upon some of the prior malt-focused releases of years past. Head Distiller Brian Sprance highlights a malted barley - T50 Crystal Malt. Typically, this malt is used in pale ales and bitters, and will produce toasty-toffee notes. From the press release, we're expecting a "dance of gentle rye spice and molten toffee, along with emergent rye spice, cocoa nib, and faint red fruits".

The Tasting

The tall, dark bottle shares a wealth of information. Like several products from New Riff, this is produced as a Bottled-in-Bond product, indicating it is

  • produced in the United States

  • a product of 1 distillation season, by a single distiller, at a single location

  • labeled to identify the distillery where it was distilled

  • aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least 4 years

  • bottled at 100 proof

Further, the bottle shares this product has been aged for 6 years and is bottled without chill filtration. This is a feature I’ve truly enjoyed with many bourbons, as it allows more of the natural oils and esters to remain in the finished product and typically results in a greater mouthfeel or chew. The mash bill is 65% corn, 25% malted rye, and 15% T50 Crystal Malt. With rapidly-aged craft whiskey product offerings, it is comforting to see distillers, like New Riff, patiently waiting to produce and release, true, craft whiskeys. And, I also enjoy how many have taken up the time-honored tradition of releases that reflect the season.

Eye: Deep amber. There are immediately a host of whiskey legs displayed on the inside of the Glencairn glass.

Nose: Quite delicious. This reminds me a little of the Woodford Reserve Distllers Collection Five-Malt Stouted Mash - it truly has the aroma of a finely malted stout beer. Traditional vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak are layered with deep stout and sharper IPA notes.

Palate: Sweet caramel and vanilla notes, with a dash of earthiness undertones offered by the malt. There is unsweetened dark chocolate and spice present towards the end that leads into a crescendo of charred oak. I also taste some citrus and tart cherry notes. The extra age allows for the layered flavors to really develop, and the non-chill filtration adds a measure of richness to the experience.

Finish: Medium-long with initial notes of warm caramel, followed at the end with rye spice, toasted oak, and a delicious stout. This is quite incredible.

Overall: Two thumbs-up again to our friends at New Riff Distilling. While I missed last year’s Winter Whiskey release, I’m truly glad I found this one behind the counter. At $60 and with a limited geographical release, this is one to keep your eyes peeled for and to not pass up when you see it. The earthy stout-like notes can warm you from the inside-out as the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fly.

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