I have been a fan of New Riff since I first tried it. New Riff is a newer distillery, releasing a barrel proof and bottled in bond bourbon and rye whiskies, always non-chill filtered with no additives and always over four years old. Unfortunately, this bourbon is available only in limited markets, and from what I understand these are Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. They are hopefully going to start selling whiskey in other states, but that may be some time off. If you find yourself in any of those four states, you should definitely pick up a bottle of New Riff, or order one from Seelbach’s and have it shipped to you.
While not expanding to other states, they are doing barrel selections for certain retailers, including Binny’s in Illinois, and the Louisiana Bourbon Collective, a Facebook group, purchased a barrel which was picked up at the distillery and driven back to Louisiana. I have already polished off a bottle of the wonderful LBC pick (glad I bought two), and the two Binny’s picks I have were picked up by Ken Brown on a trip to Illinois. So, to start celebrating my birthday tomorrow, I thought I would do a comparative tasting of these three bottles.
Binny’s- Barrel 15-6575 – 113.2 proof – lovely caramel color, thin film with very slow moving legs. On those nose, Creme brulee and baking spices, very mouth watering. On the palate, heavily frosted warm cinnamon roll, which then turns to candied cherries on the finish. A truly lovely bourbon which really shows that with the right ingredients and distilling, and non-chill filtration, a four year old bourbon at cask strength can be amazing.
Binny’s- Barrel 15-5985- 111.6 proof – thicker film and legs than the first one. Very traditional bourbon nose overlaid with orange, and on the palate is orange curaçao and clove with lovely oak on the finish. Medium mouthfeel. Very different from other other Binny’s pick. Reminiscent of the Parker’s Heritage Collection aged in orange curaçao barrels, but with the orange being far more balanced in this bottle of New Riff. This bourbon would pair wonderfully with a cigar.
Louisiana Bourbon Collective Private Barrel Selection #1, Barrel 16-9494, 101.7 proof – St. Landry Parish I-49 Flash Rainstorm Skid Into A Muddy Ditch Surviving Bourbon – long story with this bottle; my friend Scott Lepley of LBC agreed to deliver bottles to Lafayette and to me and Ken Brown in Alexandria. On his way here, we had one of those flash rainstorms that made I-49 really slick and he, his wife, and quite a few bottles of New Riff ended up in a ditch. Not one bottle was broken, which is one of the high points of 2020 in my book. The color is slightly darker than the other two bottles, and, despite the lower proof, this one has longer legs. A very traditional bourbon nose is enhanced by baking spice, a little herbal rye, and caramel. The mouthfeel on this is much thicker than the other two, again despite the lower proof. On the palate, dark corn syrup, spicy rye, caramel, Caribbean vanilla, which crescendoes to baking spice and herbal rye on the lingering finish. I know, at least via Louisiana Bourbon Collective, some of the guys that picked this barrel. The picked a bourbon drinker’s bourbon on this bottle. I might be overplaying this one here, but it reminds me of Blanton’s Straight From the Barrel with the rye notes over a very traditional bourbon palate. Much heavier on the rye that either of the other two picks. All of this, despite the low proof; obviously the LBC tasting panel was gunning for a certain flavor profile, proof be damned. And that’s a great thing. I truly hope this is pick #1 of many. And how cool was the LBC logo frosting on the bottle.
New Riff just continues to impress me. They have really done distillery start up in the right way. And their bourbon is damn good, and even better in that you can get such wonderful variances from individual barrels.