There was a time, not too long ago, that the Party Source in Bellevue, KY was a whiskey geek’s heaven. An online store that had practically everything and who would ship it right to your door. Unfortunately those days are over. A few years ago, Kentucky passed a law outlawing shipping by liquor stores and in the intervening years, the Party Source has started to come back down to earth.
Don’t get me wrong, they are still a good liquor store, but unless you are going through Cincinnati, they are pretty far from your standard-fare bourbon tourism.
This however might be changing if you are a fan of touring craft distilleries. A few years ago, the owner of the Party Source seems to have gotten the bug to move from retailer to producer and built the New Riff distillery. Right in the Party Source parking lot. (If you are wondering about the three-tier system ramifications, he sold the Party Source to the employees, making it an Employee-Owned company.) He hired Larry Ebersold, former Master Distiller at (the distillery now known as) MGPi as a consultant and got down to business. So now, you can go on a distillery tour and get some shopping done all in the same trip.
And given the intertwined history of these two companies, it’s not too surprising to find that New Riff New Make is available at the Party Source. The only surprise is the price. Craft distillers often need to charge aged whiskey prices for unaged whiskey just to keep the lights on. In this case the 375 mL bottle I bought was only $15. Not too bad at all. The only question remaining is if it is any good.
New Riff New Make distilled from a Rye Mash
Purchase Info: $14.99, 375 mL bottle. The Party Source, Bellevue, KY
Details: 45% ABV. Distilled from a Rye mash. Positioned as a vodka alternative on the neck hanger.
Nose: Buttery. Hard butterscotch candies. Faint mint underneath.
Mouth: White sugar sweetness. Buttery toffee, grapefruit pith and mint.
Finish: Not hot but it has some lingering ethanol flavors. Mint, dill and bitter grapefruit are there too.
Thoughts: I certainly wouldn’t sit down to a glass of this served neat, but then again I wouldn’t do that with a glass of vodka either. I’m going to guess that neat is not the way this was intended to be consumed. And as such, I’m looking forward to making cocktails with it. So much so, that I moved it out of the whiskey room and into my cocktail-making cabinet.
Overall not a bad product as is, and I am certainly going to want to grab a bottle when it has spent it’s four years in wood. For now though, unless you like new make (or are just curious like I was) I'd give this a pass. I am impressed enough with it though, that next time I’m through Cincinnati, I hope to grab a tour on my way to do a little shopping.
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