New Riff launches first American single malt whiskey

New Riff launches first American single malt whiskey

The Kentucky distillery has trialled six mash bills and a number of maturation casks for its single malt whiskey

17 October 2023

New Riff Distilling in Kentucky has announced the launch of the first bottling of its Sour Mash Single Malt Whiskey.


The Newport-based producer began distilling batches of malt whiskey back in 2014 and first shared details of its planned release earlier in 2023. Since it began malt whiskey distillation, the distillery team has experimented with additional mash bills and maturation casks.


The 2023 release of New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt Whiskey comprises whiskey made to five of the six recipes it has so far trialled, distilled from 2014–2016.


“On one hand, it is entirely different from everything else we’ve ever made,” said co-founder Jay Erisman. “But on the other, it is entirely faithful to our mission to be a ‘new riff on an old tradition’ using the sour mash regimen to explore another classic whiskey tradition.”


The six mash bills created so far use a range of malted barleys and a variety of cask types which are vatted together before bottling. They include four whiskeys made with 100 per cent barley varietals – Golden Promise, Maris Otter, Chevallier heirloom barley, and Scottish peated barley malt – and two beer-inspired mash bills based on barley wine and Belgian quadrupel recipes. Maturation casks used include new charred oak, de-charred toasted oak, red wine, Portuguese brandy, and sherry-seasoned oak.


Erisman said the New Riff single malt – anticipated to become an annual release – is “huge in body and mouthfeel” due to the use of sour mashing and column still distillation processes, more common in Kentucky than in other single malt-producing states.


He added: “American single malt is a growing category in the whiskey industry and pending legislation will give it a firm identity, but even within that, we believe New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt is a complex and provocative malt whiskey enterprise.”


New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt (RRP US$69.99) will be bottled at cask strength without chill filtration. It will be available at New Riff’s distillery gift shop in Newport, KY, and at select retailers across New Riff’s national distribution network from October.

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