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. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Some whiskeys have little going on with them on the development side: one, maybe two types of grain in the mash bill, and just one type of aging cask. Others, like the New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt Whiskey I’m reviewing here with its six grain types and six cask types, are a little more mad scientist in the approach.
The backstory of this project goes back some years, even prior to December, 2014, when Kentucky-based New Riff’s first malt whiskey came off its still. The team there considered at the time what it would be like running a malt whiskey off of their new column beer still. Unsure as to the best type of malt to use, they ended up ultimately developing six different malt whiskey mash bills.
Theses recipes were made with 100% Golden Promise, Maris Otter and Chevallier Heirloom malted barleys as well as mash bills inspired by a peated Scottish barley and two beer-inspired mashbills based on classic Barleywine and Belgian Quadrupel recipes.
To further the flavor varieties possible in bottled releases of this single malt whiskey, maturation occurred in a variety of barrels, ranging from new charred oak, de-charred toasted oak, red wine casks, Portuguese brandy casks, classic sherried oak casks, as well as others.
New Riff co-founder Jay Erisman said of this release, inspired by the Celtic tradition, that “our first malt whiskey came off the still before we’d even been distilling for six months. After that, one malt whiskey led to another, and another, and many types of casks … and all that led to a full-fledged malt whiskey program.”
This first release of New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt Whiskey is made up of five of the six recipe types, and it was bottled at cask strength without chill filtration.
Tasting Notes: New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt Whiskey
Vital Stats: Blended mash bill of five of six malt recipes aged across multiple barrel types; aged at least 7 years; 113.8 proof; no chill filtration; $69.99/750 ml bottle.
Appearance: Lucious golden amber, with gentle long legs that hug the inside of the glass as I move the whiskey around.
Nose: A cornucopia of gorgeous bread types, like a bakery during early AM baking time as you pass by on the street. Some slight sweetness and a gentle hint of spring grass.
Palate: A subtle explosion of baked, sweet goodness across the palate, with some considerations of malted warmth like cuddling with your favorite baked roll. As it lingers the initial blast of the cask strength mellows out quickly, replaced by a gentle tingle of baked spice on your tongue.
The finish is drawn out and flavorful, leaving behind pleasantness of chocolate, cinnamon roll and vanilla, like an amazing dessert your taste buds can’t get enough of.