New Riff Distilling: Pioneering the Sour Mash Single Malt Whiskey Revolution
In the world of whiskey, tradition often reigns supreme, with distilleries striving to uphold centuries-old practices. Yet, amidst this reverence for heritage, one distillery is breaking new ground and challenging conventions. New Riff Distilling, based in Newport, Kentucky, is poised to unveil its revolutionary Sour Mash Single Malt whiskey, a project that defies the norms of both American whiskey-making and malt whiskey distillation. This groundbreaking endeavor, set to debut later this month, has been years in the making, with the distillery's journey beginning back in 2014.
A Distillery with a Unique Vision
New Riff Distilling, founded by visionary co-founder Jay Erisman, has always been driven by a desire to be a "new riff on an old tradition." While they've crafted exceptional spirits over the years, the Sour Mash Single Malt whiskey project represents an entirely different realm of whiskey-making. Erisman aptly describes it as "entirely different from everything else we've ever made."
The origins of this innovative project can be traced back to the early months of the distillery's existence, where they embarked on a daring experiment. The journey since then has been characterized by a relentless pursuit of perfection, as they've explored various mashbills and barrels to create a truly exceptional malt whiskey.
An Ever-Evolving Expression
The New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt is not a static creation; it's a dynamic and ever-evolving expression of the distillery's craft. Anticipated to be released annually, each year's blend will feature slight variations, ensuring that every bottle tells a unique story. The inaugural 2023 release showcases the culmination of their efforts, boasting a blend of whiskey distilled from 2014 to 2016, with aging periods ranging from 7 to 8 years.
The heart of this project lies in its six distinct mashbills, each meticulously designed to impart a specific character and flavor profile to the final whiskey. New Riff's innovative approach includes four whiskeys crafted with 100% barley varieties, such as Golden Promise, Maris Otter, Chevallier heirloom barley, and Scottish peated barley malt. In addition, they've drawn inspiration from the world of beer, crafting mashbills based on classic Barleywine and Belgian Quadrupel recipes. Each mash bill adds its unique nuance to the whiskey.
A Symphony of Maturation
The art of whiskey-making extends beyond the distillation process, and New Riff Distilling has left no stone unturned in this regard. Their malt whiskeys have matured in an array of barrels, each contributing its own distinct influence. From the rich and bold notes of new charred oak to the nuanced flavors derived from red wine casks, Portuguese brandy casks, and classic sherried oak casks, the maturation process has been a symphony of flavors.
Defining the American Single Malt Category
New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt whiskey arrives at a pivotal moment in the whiskey industry, as it becomes part of the burgeoning American Single Malt category. Pending legislation is set to provide this category with a clear identity, but New Riff's creation stands as a testament to the complexity and innovation within this emerging whiskey realm.
Jay Erisman emphasizes that this whiskey offers a "kaleidoscopic malt whiskey experience," and he believes it's truly exceptional due to the Kentucky regimen of sour mashing and column still distillation—a process that sets it apart from malt whiskeys produced elsewhere. Its body and mouthfeel are immense, representing a rare quality in malt whiskeys from other regions.
Availability and Pricing
New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt, crafted with 100% malted barley, is set to be priced at an MSRP of $69.99 for a 750mL bottle. True to the distillery's principles, it will be bottled at cask strength and without chill filtration. Whiskey enthusiasts can acquire this unique creation at New Riff's distillery gift shop in Newport, Kentucky, and select retailers across the distillery's national distribution network, starting in early October.
In a world where tradition often holds sway, New Riff Distilling's Sour Mash Single Malt whiskey stands as a testament to the power of innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence. This whiskey is not merely a spirit; it's a bold statement of what's possible when you dare to be different in the world of whiskey-making. So, prepare your palate for a revolutionary experience that will redefine your understanding of what malt whiskey can be.
About New Riff Distilling
New Riff Distilling is a renowned American craft distillery located in Newport, Kentucky. Established in 2014, the distillery has quickly gained recognition for its commitment to producing high-quality bourbon and other spirits. New Riff is situated in the heart of the bourbon industry, with its location along the banks of the Ohio River, just across from Cincinnati, Ohio, making it an integral part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
One of the distinguishing features of New Riff is its dedication to the traditional bourbon-making process. They take pride in crafting their bourbon using the time-honored method of sour mash, which involves using a portion of the previous batch's fermented mash to kickstart the fermentation of the new one. This method contributes to the distinctive flavor profile of their bourbons.
The distillery is known for its hands-on approach, with every aspect of production carefully controlled and monitored. They source non-GMO grains locally, which allows them to have better control over the quality of their ingredients. Their commitment to transparency is evident in the fact that they provide detailed information about the grains they use, the yeast strains employed, and even the specific aging barrels used for each product.
New Riff's flagship bourbon, the New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon, has received critical acclaim for its rich and complex flavor profile. It is made from a mash bill that primarily consists of corn, rye, and malted barley, and it is aged in new charred oak barrels for a minimum of four years, adhering to the legal requirements for bourbon. This aging process imparts a deep amber color and a well-balanced combination of sweet and spicy notes.
In addition to their standard bourbon, New Riff produces a variety of other spirits, including rye whiskey and limited-edition releases. They have also gained recognition for their commitment to sustainability, with efforts to reduce waste and minimize their environmental footprint.
New Riff Distilling is an excellent example of a modern craft distillery that respects tradition while pushing the boundaries of innovation in the world of American whiskey. With a dedication to quality and a commitment to producing exceptional spirits, they have earned their place among the respected distilleries of Kentucky's bourbon country.