An Irrefutably Great Trio from One of the Most Exciting Distilleries in the World “New Riff Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” at K&L California – American Whiskey News

Award-Winning Whiskeys from a Thrilling New Distiller
“If New Riff is not on your radar, you need to follow them.
They’re one of the most exciting new distilleries in the world.” — Fred Minnick for Forbes

New Riff founders Ken Lewis and Jay Erisman have decades of experience in the spirits industry, specifically on the retail side of the business. Ken founded The Party Source—the largest independent retail shop in Kentucky. Jay was his spirits buyer—the man responsible for doing things like bottling single casks of Pappy back in the day. In 2014, eager to take the next step in their careers, Ken decided to sell the shop to his employees and build a brand new distillery in the parking lot. From day one, the vision has been to make quality whiskey. Jay and Ken, while two of the most knowledgeable people on the retail side of the spirits business, had in fact never made whiskey before. So, they hired Larry Ebersold and Brian Sprance to dial it in. Larry was the former master distiller at Seagram’s, known today as LDI and the source of the vast majority of “craft” whiskey on the market. Brian was a longtime brewing manager at Boston Beer Company. Together, these two guys have as much experience fermenting and distilling at the highest level as nearly anyone on the planet.

Available in California exclusively from K&L Wine Merchants, we are proud to partner with another fiercely independent family-owned spirits business to bring some of the best whiskey on the market to our customers.The result is a crack team of experts start to finish—production on through to marketing and sales—all with a palate for the good stuff. Their commitment to excellence goes well beyond hiring the best in the business. They have a few uncompromising values when it comes to their whiskey. It will always be unchillfiltered, and every drop is bottled-in-bond in accordance with the oldest and highest quality standard in American whiskey (unless it’s a single cask at full proof). Their first release came in the fall of 2018 when the youngest barrels were aged up to the minimum 4-year-old requirement to be bottled-in-bond. By March of 2019, they won Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits competition for all five of their entrants—the bourbon, rye, single barrel bourbon, and two fabulous gins. It is the most impressive haul by a new distillery we have ever seen.

New Riff Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) ($44.99)

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 20, 2019

The importance of what New Riff has done can’t be stated in a single review. The true magnitude of their accomplishments can only be understood when looking at the larger picture of the American whiskey industry and where they fit into it. As with any whiskey though, the story isn’t fully told until you get it in your glass and judge for yourself. I love the combination of richness and spice in the bourbon. In particular, the high (30%) rye content really amps up the experience. While the sweet vanillins and caramels of the barrel create a base for the whiskey, it’s the high toned peaks of rye aromatics that make the pour sing. Pepper and cinnamon abound, but the touch of dried alfalfa adds the savor needed to make it a complete drinking experience, not just a sweet and spice bomb. The finish lingers, both long and well rounded. Perfect at 100 proof, as required by the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897, you have many options for enjoying this one. Neat is never a bad idea, but the savory notes play extremely well with vermouth if you want to mix up some cocktails. There is enough punch that a little water or ice isn’t going to dilute you past the point of intense aromatics and flavor either.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 26, 2019

Easily one of the most exciting new distillers in KY, and we’re proud to be the partner for these incredible products. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill craft distillery, this is a proper, modern Kentucky style distillery. It’s not a tiny capacity, working on experiments and trying to reinvent the wheel. They’re just cranking out great whisky and we’re along for the ride. The flagship BIB bourbon is extremely well balanced and proof positive that craft whiskey doesn’t need to be old to be delicious. I’m not sure if they’re heat-cycling these warehouses, but they are rubbing all the edges of this little gem. A soft nose of sweet tea, deep oak, caramelized orange peel, and hints of earthy maltiness. On the palate it’s somewhat tropical, with a strawberry candy front palate building into a strong spice toward the back. It’s not a slouch and definitely has a spice backbone that’s going to suit lovers of Four Roses or Wild Turkey just fine. Despite the name, New Riff isn’t new school at all. Just great classic bourbon from an independent distillery that we’re unbelievably lucky to be a part of.

Jeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 25, 2019

This is a medium bodied bourbon with a wonderful sweet nose with caramel notes. In the mouth there are caramel and honey flavors with a pleasing dry finish. I though that it was very good with and without the addition of water. It will be great alone or in cocktails.

Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 20, 2019

Balsa wood, incense, and musky cologne emerge from the glass. Cinnamon, clove, and other earthy spices come to the fore and dominate the nose of this bottled-in-bond bourbon that’s woody and peppery enough to make one wonder if it’s a rye. There’s just enough caramel to keep things in bourbon territory though, with freshly sliced vanilla bean and nutmeg creeping in and making the nose a bit more rich and voluptuous. It’s woodier on the palate with more bold spice character as well. This is definitely a great whiskey for lovers of high-rye bourbons.

New Riff Bottled-In-Bond Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey (750ml) ($44.99)

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 20, 2019

When you start a new distillery, it’s not uncommon (for the savvy operators) to hire a longtime industry pro to make sure the setup of the facility is up to snuff. If you’re really dedicated to making great whiskey, you hire the best. If you’re dedicated to making great rye, that means you find the man who has a reasonable claim to having distilled more rye whiskey than anyone on earth. Larry Ebersold spent 40+ years making whiskey at what is today known as MGP—at one time the largest whiskey distillery on the planet—and he is responsible for making an enormous portion of the bourbon and rye available on the market today. The investment in great people has paid off in a big way for New Riff. They let Larry order up the “small” distillery of his dreams and implemented a few new ideas he had that were not in the cards at a massive facility like MGP. A bit unusual in that it is 100% rye (95% rye and 5% malted rye) this is a dissertation on why rye is such a compelling distillation grain. It’s both spicy in flavor and plush on the palate. There is a small floral and grassy component that is intense but not perfumy or overly sweet. The cinnamon and pepper that is so clear in the high-rye bourbon, counterintuitively melts into the core of this 100% rye. Bottled-in-bond, this Fall 2019 bottling is a masterpiece and rightly deserves to be where New Riff hangs their hat.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 26, 2019

While everyone is talking about the New Riff bourbons, I think it’s the rye that’s secretly their most exciting product. New Riff bourbons are high rye already, but they follow sort of the standard Kentucky process. With the rye, New Riff is actually riffing a bit on the classic Larry Ebersold Seagram’s mashbill that’s made the rye from the distillery down river so famous. This is 100% rye with 5% of that being malted rye. The resulting whisky is earthy and complex. It doesn’t have the obvious mint qualities of some other 100% ryes, instead replacing those with a dark underbrush aroma that’s really appealing. Still, an evergreen quality and some sweet oak give this an obvious forest essence that I think will become a hallmark of New Riff’s wonderful ryes. The palate is very forgiving without relinquishing the savoriness, but offering tons of flambeed citrus, roasting herbs, Manuka honey and a round creamy texture. This one loves a bit of water.

Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 20, 2019

This bottled-in-bond no chill-filtered Kentucky rye has a gorgeous and incredibly aromatic nose. It’s so floral at the start, but not without spicy and fruity notes. This is a bit of a slow-burner rye, where you almost expect it to be a softy push-over, but rest assured that this grows bolder the more you sniff. After the fresh-cut flowers, apple and cinnamon come out strong. But for me, it’s not like a friendly baked apple pie – no, this is fresh ground cinnamon powder dashed onto just-cut green apples. This is intense. There’s more spice on the palate that lights you up without blowing your head off. Charred oak meets fresh cut wood with incense before getting spicy again with a dose of cooling mint to spare your tongue from the burn. This is a fun little trip of a rye.

New Riff “Single Barrel #15-4076” Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (750ml) ($49.99)

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 20, 2019

Distilled in the fall of 2015 and bottled in the fall of 2019, barrel #15-4076 clocks in at 112.4 proof. More than one of our staff members muttered impressed profanities under their breath upon tasting this barrel. It’s jammed with expanding flavors ranging from caramel, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to sandalwood, mint, tangy apples, cracked pepper and varnish. The proof is high, but the heat is remarkably restrained. It’s an easy sipper even at cask strength. Of course like all of their whisky – it’s bottled without chill filtration. Just raw, unadulterated whiskey goodness. Selected for exceptional quality and bottled one barrel at a time, the single barrel SKU never gets old. Each one is a unique, but complete expression of the quality New Riff produces every day.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 26, 2019

While the bottled in bond stuff has proved to be superlative at this new distillery in Northern Kentucky, it will surely be the wonderful single barrels that seal the deal with so many whisky fanatics. These barrels deliver so much depth and complexity, I’m always shocked that we’re able to sell them for so little. So few of Kentucky’s great distillers are offering us cask strength single barrel and going forward we’ll be scouring New Riffs warehouses for the very best cherries. This barrel shows a very different character than the standard BIB right now. The nose explodes out of the glass with exotic aromas: sandalwood and white flowers, grilled stone fruits, and surprisingly low spice on the nose. On the palate here comes the oak spice and vanilla! Long, warming cinnamon, and slight hints of roasted corn. A pretty tidy package filled with tons of flavor and wrapped in a silk ribbon.

Jeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 25, 2019

This barrel is elegant and layered. The nose is soft and inviting. In the mouth it is light and on the sweet side. With a splash of water it really opens up with the bright sweetness and delicate flavors coming together.

Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: August 20, 2019

Cinnamon, clove, and burnt sugar waft up from the glass on this deceptively easy to drink cask strength bourbon. I’m pretty used to drinking high-proof whisk(e)y, but this is dang friendly and I’m not sure I would peg it as cask strength if it was handed to me blind. Spearmint and eucalyptus create a lovely relaxing balm with other herbal and medicinal notes. The palate is fairly earthy and herbal with tea notes that then go in a creme brulee direction. Adding water offers exciting changes to the whiskey with more florality emerging and snappy spices. Pepper, dark caramel, and toasted oak spice linger in the very long finish.

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