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New Riff Distilling Takes On Unique Malt Whiskey Project

New Riff Distilling recently announced it will explore the combination of malted barley and a sour mash in a new single malt project.

A statement from the whiskey maker explained that their new Sour Mash Single Malt project will be a “provocative riff on a very old tradition,” as New Riff began distilling batches of malt whiskey back in 2014, in the first six months of the distillery’s history. That first batch is set to debut in bottles this fall.

New Riff Co-founder Jay Erisman said that even before the distillery opened, they were talking about the possibilities of malted barley distillation using the Kentucky regimen (that is, sour mashing, open fermentation, copper column still and using a continuous doubler for the second distillation).

New Riff Sour Malt Single Malt
New Riff Distilling recently announced it will explore the combination of malted barley and a sour mash in a new single malt project. (image via New Riff)

“Malt whiskeys are made in Kentucky today on a modest basis, and they have a historical basis as well, but they are rarely mentioned and even more rarely bottled,” he said.

Erisman explained that the concept is inspired by the Celtic tradition, but also by New Riff Head Distiller Brian Sprance’s 15 years of professional brewing experience, which encompasses nearly every style of modern beer.

It was through the reimagination of both old world and new world beer styles, the New Riff Distilling team looked to showcase the many malted varieties they’ve experienced as brewers.

“Our first malt whiskey came off the still before we’d even been distilling for six months,” Erisman said. “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. Our Single Malt program represents a level of complexity and exploration in malted barley not seen before in Kentucky’s whiskey history.”

New Riff has six different malt whiskey mash bills that can be blended into a range of malt whiskeys. The mash bills include whiskeys 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.

Erisman said that each offers a distinct flavor profile.

And these malt whiskeys have matured 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.

The core offering of this whiskey is set to release in the fall, made up of five of those six recipes. The Sour Mash Single Malt will be bottled at cask strength, without chill filtration.

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Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

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