Bourbon takes patience, but the wait is finally over at New Riff Distilling. The Northern Kentucky distillery has released its first distilled bourbon, a bottled-in-bond release the distillery describes as a "sensorial symphony of butterscotch, rye spice, vanilla and fruits."
This high-rye bourbon is the first release distilled at the Newport, KY, distillery, which opened in 2014 and is located a short drive across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The distillery previously released O.K.I. bourbon, which was distilled off-site but aged and bottled at New Riff.
The bottled-in-bond release, which follows strict federal requirements, will be New Riff's baseline spirit, rather than just one part of its portfolio.
"Bottled in Bond is the highest quality standard for aged spirits in the world,” New Riff founder Ken Lewis said in a press release. “Rather than reserve it for special or limited releases, it is the signature of our Bourbon. Moreover, we are taking the standard one step further by eliminating chill filtration to ensure that not a single molecule of flavor is sacrificed. We are firmly grounded in Kentucky’s revered Bourbon tradition, but this is very much our own riff.”
Readers of Bourbon and Barns may remember last year's Q&A with New Riff General Manager Hannah Lowen. Read that interview here: New Riff Distilling Excels with Patience.
Bourbon and Barns has also explored what it means for a bourbon to be "Bottled-in-Bond." You can read more about that in a piece originally posted by Louisville attorney Brian Haara on his Sipp'n Corn blog: Bourbon Propels Early Consumer Protection Law.
New Riff Distilling, a Northern Kentucky distillery offering a new riff on American whiskey, today announces the release of its Bourbon that has been patiently aging for four years. Distilled by an expert beer brewer-turned-distiller, New Riff Bourbon will be available in spirits retail stores, bars and restaurants beginning in Fall 2018 (SRP $39.99/750 ml).
Bottled in Bond at 100 proof (50% ABV) without chill filtration, New Riff Bourbon embraces the ultimate quality benchmark for the category. A genuinely high-rye, full-bodied whiskey with a savory, spicy character, its mash bill is 65% corn, 30% rye and 5% malted barley, all non-GMO.
A Sensorial Symphony with Notes of Butterscotch, Rye Spice, Vanilla and Fruits
New Riff Bourbon entices with an aroma of butterscotch that rounds into fresh oak, with hints of vanilla and rye spice. On the palate, its broad, fulsome mouthfeel leads to a sweeter vanilla accent, before a melding of clove, cinnamon, mint and dark berries. Its long, rye-led finish is replete with brambly red-black fruits amid white pepper and clove.
“Bottled in Bond is the highest quality standard for aged spirits in the world,” says Ken Lewis, Founder, New Riff Distilling. “Rather than reserve it for special or limited releases, it is the signature of our Bourbon. Moreover, we are taking the standard one step further by eliminating chill filtration to ensure that not a single molecule of flavor is sacrificed. We are firmly grounded in Kentucky’s revered Bourbon tradition, but this is very much our own riff.”
“At New Riff Distilling, we uphold the hallowed Kentucky Regimen with open fermentation, sour mashing and distillation on grain,” says Jay Erisman, Co-Founder and V.P. of Strategic Development, New Riff Distilling. “Our stills are all copper, from our 60-foot column still to our doubler, and the whiskey is aged only in 53-gallon new oak barrels that are toasted and charred. New Riff Bourbon is truly a distillation of who we are as people.”
Embracing Bottled in Bond, a Watchword for Quality, and Going Beyond
New Riff Distilling’s Bourbon is Bottled in Bond, meaning the whiskey was made in a single distillation season by a single distillery. It must be aged for a minimum of 4 years in a bonded warehouse, and be bottled at exactly 100 proof; no flavors or colors may be added, and the whiskey must remain unchanged from the barrel except for filtration, which is permitted.
This is in accordance with the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, which was enacted by Congress to stop the rampant adulteration of American whiskey at the time. It has since become a watchword for quality, since blending is prohibited and the distiller’s skills are in full view.
In light of all the regulatory requirements, many producers reserve Bottled in Bond for only select whiskeys in their portfolio. New Riff Distilling has chosen to make it its baseline. Moreover, it is adding its own quality guarantee, namely “Without Chill Filtration.” This ensures that nothing is removed from the Bourbon, not even through filtration, retaining all the aroma, flavor, texture and color.
A Spirit Guided by One of America’s Most Esteemed Master Distillers
To build their distillery, Lewis, who previously owned the nation’s largest spirits retail store, The Party Source, and Erisman, who was the store’s Fine Spirits Manager, reached out to Larry Ebersold, an unrivaled authority in American whiskey with four decades of experience at Seagram Lawrenceburg Plant in Indiana, at one time the largest distillery in the world. As Consulting Master Distiller, Ebersold played a pivotal role in commissioning the new distillery, including specifying its equipment and ensuring that everything functioned seamlessly and safely.
Hiring a Former Beer Brewer, Not a Distiller
Ebersold recommended Lewis and Erisman hire someone with beer brewing experience, rather than a distiller, to run the new operation. He reasoned that all of a spirit’s flavors are created during fermentation, a process that brewers know intimately. This resulted in recruiting Brian Sprance, formerly of the Boston Brewing Company, as Head Distiller. Ebersold trained the nascent team in distillation techniques and shared his prized mash bills that became the starting points for New Riff Distilling’s own recipes. He remains a mentor and constant inspiration for the team.
Naturally Cool and Pure Aquifer Water Saves Energy
When planning the distillery, Lewis and Erisman sought a better source of water than the local municipality. By luck or kismet, they discovered the distillery’s location is situated directly over the Ohio River Alluvial Aquifer, which has some of the best water in all of Kentucky.
Located 100 feet below ground, the aquifer’s water is naturally filtered, loaded with minerals and at an ideal constant temperature of 58 degrees, even in summer. The water, which gushes forth at 500 gallons a minute, yields enormous energy savings by effectively cooling the mash and condenser coils without first requiring to be chilled. In addition, the water is used throughout the fermentation process.