New Riff Distilling has named Brian Sprance as the first master distiller in its history. Sprance joined New Riff ahead of its founding in 2014 as head distiller, having formerly been a brewer for the Boston Beer Company.
At the time, New Riff founder Ken Lewis selected Sprance specifically for his expertise in fermentation, rather than distilling, understanding that “fermentation is where a spirit’s flavours are created; distillation only concentrates them.”
Now approaching its 10-year anniversary, New Riff is an independently-owned distillery founded by Lewis as a “new riff” on traditional Kentucky bourbon. He comments, “When I founded New Riff in 2014, my goal was, and still is, for our Northern Kentucky distillery to become one of the great small distilleries of the world.
“The person at New Riff leading that charge to make world-class whiskey to share with the world is our head distiller Brian Sprance. So it’s fitting as we approach our tenth anniversary, that we recognise Brian for his leadership role in moving us forward toward that aspirational goal and for sharing with us all such outstanding whiskey by conferring on him the well-earned title of master distiller.”
At the beginning of his New Riff journey, consulting master distiller Larry Ebersold acted as mentor to Sprance. “Larry was an excellent teacher who rarely gave the answer, but instead, motivated me to reach a full understanding of each situation that presented itself in the whiskey making process. While I consider Larry one of my biggest influences in whiskey today, I'm even luckier to consider him a trusted and valued friend,” Sprance shares.
After a decade distilling for New Riff, Sprance’s new title of master distiller comes at a significant time for the distillery. Last year, Lewis announced his intention to retire in 2024 in Whisky Magazine’s sister publication, American Whiskey Magazine. “2024 will be a transformational year for New Riff” Lewis says.
“The team has put in a lot of work behind the scenes and I’m excited to share those efforts with our customers.”
Further plans in New Riff’s 2024 calendar include expansion into new states, anniversary celebrations and the release of older whiskey. For more information about New Riff, and to discover their spirits, visit newriffdistilling.com.