When it comes to American craft distillers, New Riff often come to my mind as one of the first who seemed to do it right. Their marketing is spot-on with the fantastic motto (“new riff on an old tradition”), neat logo, excellent bottle design, and impressive transparency. What’s more is that when New Riff first popped up on the radar, a time when consumers viewed craft distillers with far less optimism, New Riff earned enough praise for people to pay attention to their future endeavors.
More recent New Riff developments have included experimental releases such as the peat-influenced Backsetters, 6-Year Malted Rye, and the malted oat and chocolate malt Winter Whiskey. Yet the expressions many have at least seen are their Bottled in Bond and Single Barrel bourbons and ryes. For today, we’re looking at the Bottled in Bond bourbon which, in addition to the usual requirements for bonded bourbon, is non-chill filtered.
Nose: Generous caramel and cherry with some orange accents. Prickly rye notes gradually reveal themselves. Hints of lemon cookie. Really nice standard high-rye bourbon nose.
Palate: Moderate mouthfeel. Decent, but balanced level of spice offsets the lightly syrupy texture. Pepper and a touch of grass accent the caramel and orange notes. Some vanilla spice and clove.
Finish: Quite lengthy. Nice caramel, orange, spice, and rickhouse oak close out the experience. Some melon or cantaloupe notes from the rye rear their head. Surprisingly rich and developed for a 4-year product.
All one needs is a single whiff of this bourbon to understand why New Riff caught on for a number of people. From front to back this is a stellar product that checks almost all of the boxes. I’m particularly impressed with how borderline complete this tastes and feels for a 4-year product. Considering how low New Riff’s Single Barrels come in on the proof range and how full the proofed down Bottled in Bond comes across, I suspect a fairly low entry proof, which allows the whiskey to retain its richness without feeling overblown. The fruity rye notes are probably my biggest clue that this isn’t older distillate, but otherwise? I’d probably suspect this was closer to 7 years.
I regret sleeping on New Riff for as long as I did. Trying their everyday bourbon as well as a bourbon group pick has me wanting to pay extra close attention to them, even over a few big-name distillers. As a newer player, their distribution seems to be hit or miss, and even in markets where they’re available, you may be limited to one or two stores. At roughly $40, their entry-level bourbon punches at the level I think it needs to. Better options may exist for around the same price, but if you’re actively looking at craft distillers, then spending a little extra just tends to come with the territory. And in New Riff’s case, they’re absolutely worth giving a shot.