Last October, in my review of New Riff Bottled in Bond, I mentioned that I couldn’t wait to try “the rye and single barrel that they list on their website.” Seeing as they are a craft distillery that just recently started selling fully mature product, I expected that I would have to wait until I make my spring run to Kentucky for that to happen. So imagine my surprise when I was walking through the bourbon aisle of my local Total Wine a month or so ago and saw two facings of that adorable black bottle.
I immediately grabbed a bottle of the Bottled in Bond and as I was doing do, I noticed that the bottle sitting right next to it was a Single Barrel that I had wanted to try. Since buying both would be about $90 I sent my wife a text asking which she would prefer. I got my second surprise of the day when she told me I should probably grab both. And it is a good thing I did as the next time I was at the store, they were gone.
I’m not going to lie, by this past weekend, I’d consumed the better part of both bottles. I’m unashamedly a fan, at least of the three bottles I’d had to that point. On many a night, they were the go-to pour for our evening’s glass of whiskey. In fact, I ended up putting the single barrel in the closet so that I could assure myself that there would still be some left for this review. I was extremely happy when I saw another two facings this past weekend. This time of just the single barrel. And I felt even happier when I got home and saw it was a different barrel than my previous purchase. It’s always fun to taste the difference between two different barrels side-by-side.
New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon
Purchase Info: $49.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN
Barrel# 141144: 56.4% ABV, Distilled in Fall 2014, Bottled in Fall 2018, Barrel produced 209 bottles.
Barrel# 141189: 56.15% ABV, Distilled in Fall 2014, Bottled in Fall 2018, Barrel produced 178 bottles.
Barrel# 141144: Caramel, cinnamon, apple, dried nuts
Barrel# 141189: cinnamon, cherry, dark chocolate, dried nuts
Barrel# 141144: Nice mouthfeel. Follows the nose with caramel, apple, cinnamon and ginger.
Barrel# 141189: Hot and spicy with cherry, cinnamon, black tea and a hint of vanilla.
Barrel# 141144: On the short side of medium with notes of caramel, coffee and nutmeg.
Barrel# 141189: warm and long with lingering notes of cinnamon red hots candy and dark chocolate.
Thoughts: These are both delicious whiskeys. Though there is a family resemblance, I’m struck by how different they are. One is very caramel forward while the other is spicy and fruit forward. This is why I love doing side by side tastings of single barrels.
I’ll admit, when I first heard way back when that “the guy from the Party Source” was going to be opening a distillery, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the product that was put out. I’d been burned by too many other craft distilleries who were putting out bourbons that were too young and too expensive. And let’s face it, selling whisky isn’t exactly preparation for making it any more than designing the labels would be. I was wrong. Every bottle of New Riff bourbon that I’ve purchased has been delicious and well worth the money. And the price is pretty good too. $40 for the Bonded and $50 for the Single Barrel, both being at least four years old? That’s a hell of a lot better than some of these guys that are trying to sell two year old whiskey for over $120.
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