We’re toasting the last week in January with a cask strength special bourbon that you can only buy from Master of Malt. It’s New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon!

We’ve got a treat in store for lovers of American whiskey. It really ticks all the boxes as far for us: single cask, high alcohol 52.9% ABV, non chill-filtered, and a high rye content so it’s nice and spicy. And it’s from one of the most of the new producers in Kentucky, the aptly named New Riff.  No wonder we bought the lot as a MoM exclusive. 

New Riff Single Barrel bourbon

A new riff on an old story

The New Riff story dates back to 2014 when it was founded by Ken Lewis, a local drinks retailer. He built a distillery in Newport, Kentucky in the heart of American whiskey country. Straight away the aim was high quality so everything is both high in alcohol and bottled without chill-filtration. 

The process is classic Kentucky sour mash whiskey, meaning that a portion of the last ferment is added to the next to get things going rather like how you do with sourdough bread, only better because you end up with whiskey. This creates consistency and the high acidity prevents the build up of bacteria that could spoil the fermentation. The fermentation process is slow, compared with Scotch whisky, taking place over four days. The idea is to encourage interesting flavours built up by the local microflora.

New Riff still uses a copper column for the first distillation and then a continuous double for the second. They are very big on copper. On the website it says “Our distillation equipment is all-copper: wherever the mash or distillate is heated, we want it in contact with nothing but copper, to help our whiskey age for decades to come.” That ageing takes place in 53 gallon (200 litre) American oak casks for a minimum of four years, longer than most American whiskeys. All New Riff whiskeys are bottled without chill filtration. 

A Master of Malt exclusive

New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon is a little bit special because it’s from a single exceptional barrel rather than being blended into one of the core range and it’s bottled straight from the cask at 52.9% ABV, or 105.7 proof in American. And you can only buy it from Master of Malt. The resulting whiskey is rich and spicy but also beautifully smooth. It’s a great sipping whiskey, neat or with ice. As you’d expect, it’s dynamite in cocktails like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. This week, however, we’re doing things a bit differently and making Brooklyn, a fruity riff on the classic Manhattan.


Brooklyn (and a Sazerac). Photo taken from the Home Bar by Henry Jeffreys

How to make a Brooklyn

45ml New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon
45ml Dolin Dry Vermouth
10ml Maraschino Liqueur
10ml Bloomsbury Amer

Stir all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry – from Luxardo naturally. 

Tasting Note for New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon

Nose: Warm caramel, a touch of oaky char, clove, and cinnamon.

Palate: Cinnamon butter on toast, with warm oak, and some fruity green and pink peppercorns.

Finish: Peppery spices build, along with toasted oak.

New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon is available from Master of Malt. Click links for prices and to buy.