Location: Newport, Kentucky
Head Distiller: Brian Sprance
Grains: Non-GMO Corn from Indiana, Rye from German and Malted Barley from Minnesota
Mash bills: Bourbon – 65% Corn, 30% Rye and 5% Malted Barley / Rye – 95% Rye, 5% Malted Rye
Stills: 24 inch diameter Copper Column Still and a 500 gallon Copper Pot Still
A New Riff on an Old Tradition
Founded in 2014 by Ken Lewis , a visionary Kentucky liquor retailer and entrepreneur, and Jay Erisman (pictured), New Riff is situated just inside Kenucky, over the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. New Riff crafts a range of Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys and a host of specialty recipes. New Riff have a simple mission; to someday be counted among the world’s great small distilleries.
New Riff are independently owned by one family, and that independence, the freedom from outside pressures and interests has allowed them to make an unforeseen declaration for quality: for perhaps the first time since the inception of the Bottled in Bond Act in 1897, a Kentucky sour mash whiskey distillery has committed itself exclusively to that quality standard, the world’s highest. They take this reach for quality one step further by choosing not to chill filter their whiskeys, something they believe makes their whisky truly stand out. New Riff represents a combination of classic American entrepreneurship and ingenuity; passion and knowledge born from one of the world’s great spirit regions. They have a talented team that is dedicated to doing things the right way.
There’s nothing revolutionary about New Riff’s production process. They make sour mash whiskey just like all the big distilleries in Kentucky. For New Riff though, the devil is in the detail. Every deistillery will tell you how their water source is critical to the flavour profile of the whiskey it produces and New Riff is no different, with a private tap into an ancient aquifer right beneath the distillery. Their distillation equipment is all-copper at every point that the mash or distillate is heated which gives the whiskey the best start in life and sets it up for decades to come.
Every batch of New Riff whiskey follows the traditional Kentucky Sour Mash mash process and New Riff vow to uphold this time honoured method. Fermentation takes a steady four days whilst the temerature rises slowly. Patience is required and is extended for at least a further four years whilst the whiskey ages in full-size 53-gallon barrels, the minimum for any New Riff whiskey.
There are no short cuts. New Riff makes whiskey the hard way. Every single whiskey takes at least four years in the making and every New Riff Bourbon & Rye (aside from their extensive Single Barrel Program at barrel proof) is bottled under the highest quality standard in the world: the 1897 Bottled in Bond Act.