Whiskey Review: New Riff Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey

, | February 28, 2023

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. 

One of two limited edition fall 2022 releases from New Riff Distilling, Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey has a mash bill of 100% Aroostook Kentucky-grown malted rye and offers a complex palate that accentuates subtle spice and pleasant notes of malt ball and a kind of chemical cast iron mouthfeel.

The malt was sourced from Caleb Michalke, founder and head maltster of Sugar Creek Malt Co. in Lebanon Indiana, providing access to the rare Kentucky-grown Aroostook varietal grain. New Riff Distillery is located in Northern Kentucky, right at the door to bourbon country, and is at the forefront of developing new and different expressions of malted whiskey.

In a statement about the releases, “the whiskey man” and co-founder of New Riff Jay Erisman says, “These two releases are a celebration of the ancient tradition of malted grains that are united by their six years in the warehouse and by their shared embrace of the glory of malt.” New Riff often distills German malted rye, and so this new American varietal was a departure from their norm.

The aging process was interesting for Erisman, as he noticed distinctly different characteristics from their standard malted rye. In his observation, he noted a spicier whiskey, but my tasting notes strayed a bit from this. Without having past expressions to compare this one to, I found the whiskey to be sweeter, with a texture that coats the palate and has a faintly chemical savor.

New Riff Distillery is a single-family owned, independent distilling company founded in 2014 by Ken Lewis. The company takes pride in the ability to act freely from the observations of shareholders or investors and use their family-oriented culture to offer well thought out whiskey releases, as well as the ever-appreciated non-chill filtered and bottled-in-bond options.

New Riff Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey review

We review New Riff Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey, distilled from a mash bill of 100% Aroostook Kentucky-grown malted rye. (image via New Riff)

Tasting Notes: New Riff Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey

Vital Stats: Bottled at 100-Proof (50% ABV). Mashbill of 100% Aroostook Kentucky-grown malted rye. Aged six years and available in limited quantities. SRP $59.99.

Appearance: Light straw color with long legs.

Nose: Overripe fruit, specifically banana, with the aroma of vanilla and char, mixed with saltwater taffy notes.

Palate: I keep emphasizing the chemical, cast iron notes, as they exist both in the nose and the palate. The whiskey is aromatic on the tongue, mixing well with the nose, and I enjoyed the taste of chocolate and malt ball, like the Whoppers candy. The balance comes with the nice spicy elements that live in the finish.

Whiskey Review: New Riff Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey


I really appreciated this tasting. The whiskey is smooth and has a layered flavor profile that moves across the palate with ease. Without having sampled any other New Riff Distillery ryes, I can’t compare this Aroostook varietal, but I can say that this is an easy sipper that also adds character to a cocktail.

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Jerry Jenae Sampson

Jerry Sampson is a freelance writer, editor and screenwriter. Her creative work is ever improved by her love of whiskey and craft cocktails. She enjoys taking cool fall days to explore the great distilleries around Portland to get a closer look at the inner workings of her favorite spirits.