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American Whiskey Bourbon Rated A- Reviews Whiskey

Review: New Riff Distilling Single Barrel Bourbon

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New Riff Distilling hasn’t wasted any time adding a single barrel offering to their core lineup. Most of these will enter the market as private barrel selections, so expect to see plenty of liquor store and bourbon club picks popping up in the near future. Here’s more from New Riff:

At New Riff, single barrel expressions are a way of life. As former Kentucky liquor retailers, we are intimately familiar with some of Kentucky’s most famed private barrel Bourbon selections ever, and we bring that experience to New Riff. A New Riff Private Barrel selection, whether for trade or private clients, offers an unparalleled experience, replete with tasting notes and an immersive process in our warehouse. Each New Riff single barrel has been tasted and approved by our production panel. Our retail and on-premise partners then select each of their private barrels themselves. In the end, you can taste a New Riff Single Barrel knowing it was fully vetted and thoroughly tasted and approved.

We recently sampled Barrel No. 14-293 which clocked in at 110.7 proof. It yielded only 148 bottles, which is a little low for a younger bourbon, so I assume there was a good deal of evaporation with this barrel, meaning that it probably sat higher in the rickhouse. Or there could have been a leak. But enough speculation. On to the tasting.

The nose on this one is really unique. Where I had detected a slightly cereal youth on the standard bourbon, here it’s mostly oak, with lots of sandalwood notes, not your typical lumberyard. It’s sweet too with notes of buttercream frosting and a slightly sharp dried citrus note balanced against an earthy funk. It drinks hotter than 110 proof and comes across initially as somewhat light on the palate. As with the standard offering, there’s a healthy amount of rye spice with notes of ginger, clove, and cinnamon candies, all impeccably balanced. Traces of dried dark fruits aren’t as pronounced as the regular bourbon, instead showing bright citrus jam, flamed orange peel, and raw honey that lingers into the considerable finish.

Single barrels will, of course, vary from barrel to barrel. My only real complaint with this one was that it lacked a little body for cask strength, but that may be asking too much of an already very good four-year-old whiskey. It’s an impressive young bourbon, and I tasted even better examples on a recent trip to the distillery. Well done, New Riff.

A- / $50 / newriffdistilling.com

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New Riff Distilling Single Barrel Bourbon
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Drew Beard

Drew Beard is a contributor and social media editor for Drinkhacker.

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