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New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes (2024)

New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Last Updated on March 5, 2024 by Lydia Martin

This may not be your first time to rodeo with New Riff.

If you have tried its Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey or regular BiB bourbon variants, you might want to try the New Riff single barrel bourbon to compare.

But really, what’s the hype about its single-barrel bourbon?

In this article, you’re in for a big surprise. This New Riff single barrel bourbon review will tell you whether this spirit is worth the hype…or not. Keep reading.

About New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon 

The New Riff single barrel bourbon whiskey is a high-rye bourbon aged four years and meticulously bottled at barrel proof in 53-gallon toasted and charred new oak barrels without chill filtration. 

It has a mash recipe of 30% rye, 65% corn, and 5% malted barley. Because it’s a high-rye spirit, it has a spicy kick and savory, complex character.  

The New Riff bourbon offers various spirits aged in different barrels. Each bottle also comes with different alcohol contents ranging from 103.8 – 111.9 proofs. 

Most high-rye bourbons contain at least 10 – 25% rye, but New Riff contains 30%, making it unique among other bourbons.

Quick Stats 

DistilleryNew Riff
Whiskey Type & RegionBourbon/Kentucky, USA
Barrel Proof103.8 Proof
Mash Bill65% corn, 5% barley, 30% rye
Age4 years (virgin American white oak)
Average PriceAround $52.99 / 750ml (MSRP)

Tasting Notes 


Man Drinking  New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Bottle

Your nose would be greeted with strong hints of butterscotch, vanilla, brown sugar, and rye spice with a prominent sweet, roasted oak foundation. 

On the nose, you’ll enjoy a mix of caramel, black pepper, honey, dried citrus peel, freshly opened tangerine, a whiff of vanilla, cloves, fennel, prominent herbal dill, and a hint of thyme with licorice aroma.

Surprisingly, as you sniff this dram, you’ll smell its sweet (like brown sugar) roasted oak base through all its rye [1], giving it a vibe, claiming it’s older age than it actually is. 

Our team gathered four members and separately asked them to identify the bourbon’s distinct aroma.

Three out of four members claimed they smelled a youthful grain and a bit soggy cardboard-ish aroma. 

However, one member claimed that although this dram has herbal and earthy rye hints and tropical notes, it lacks diversity and depth.


In just one sip, we tasted rich honey and caramel mouthfeel.

This single-barrel bourbon has a broad, sweet vanilla accent on the palate, followed by a prominent roasted oak, licorice, dill, clove, and cinnamon.

Surprisingly, we tasted a hint of roasted graham cracker, as if telling us it’s still a relatively young dram.

Because of its high rye content, we tasted earthy and vegetal right after chewing.

We unanimously agreed that although this bourbon has character and unique, complex savor, it lacks depth and complexity to complement its rye content.


This spirit has an extra rich, unfiltered profound amber color. 


Close Up Shot of New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Bottle and a glass

After a few sips and chewing, we concluded that this dram still smelled and tasted a bit young.

However, its vegetal, earthy, and herbal personality makes it unique, which makes us optimistic about the spirit.

The New Riff single barrel bourbon whiskey finished long and rye forward with peppery, cinnamon, and clove hints.

Interesting Facts About New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon


Ken Lewis, a Kentucky retailer and entrepreneur founded New Riff in 2014. New Riff is a 100% family-owned distillery located in Newport, Kentucky. 

New Riff offers various spirits, such as the New Riff straight bourbon, rye whiskey, regular BiB bourbon whiskey, single barrels, and a couple of gins.  

Production Process 

Bourbon Whiskey Barrel

Looking closely at New Riff’s production process, there’s nothing revolutionary about it.

Like most distilleries, they make bourbon according to the law and how it should be made or distilled.

However, every New Riff batch uses sour mash per the company’s Kentucky Regimen.

The process allows a slow, natural rise over a four-day fermentation temperature to collect various flavors from their native microflora. 

After being distilled, each particular single barrel batch is aged in a full-sized 53-gallon barrel for four years to achieve its signature taste and aromas. 

Mash Bill & Alcohol Proof

The New Riff single-barrel bourbon whiskey uses a high rye mash bill recipe of 65% corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley. 

These non-chill filtered single barrels come in various batches, identified according to their barrel numbers.

Each batch is bottled for at least four years, minimum, but contains various alcohol proofs ranging from 103.8 – 111.9 proofs.

Ownership & Distillery

New Riff has been 100% independent and family-owned since Ken Lewis founded it in 2014.

It is led by a team of corporate refugees from politics to craft beer and more. 

The New Riff bourbon whiskey [2] is distilled by the New Riff distilling company.

Value & Uniqueness

At around $52.99 per 750ml, this particular single-barrel bourbon is a steal. Because of its unique characteristics, this bottle is worth its price.  

Although we don’t consider this an everyday bourbon, it’s not bad to try it out.

Would We Buy it Again?

Man Holding Bottle of  New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon 

Yes, we would buy it again because its palate is impressive and a bit tasty.

At first, we were skeptical about this dram because, at some point, it didn’t even compare to New Riff’s bottled-in-bond bourbon

But when we gave it another chance and did a few more sips, its spice and depth (still lacking, but it’s passable enough for another round) somehow grew on us. 

We liked its great balance of sweetness and spice! This may not be the best-tasting bourbon in the market, but we say, “it’s worth the chance.” 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is New Riff bourbon rare?

New Riff bourbons aren’t exactly rare, except when it released two limited-edition fall whiskies, the Aroostook Malted rye whiskey, and the Maltster T50 Crystal Malt bourbon whiskey in 2022. 

Does New Riff distill their own bourbon?

Yes, New Riff distillery distills all New Riff bourbons. The distillery is located at 24 Distillery Way in Newport, Kentucky.

Can you sip a New Riff Single Barrel neat?

Yes, you can sip a New Riff single barrel bourbon neat because its alcohol proof isn’t too overpowering.

However, you can also enjoy this tasty barrel-proof dram on the rocks, with water, or in cocktails. 

What does New Riff bourbon taste like?

New Riff Bourbon is known for its bold and robust flavor profile, offering a harmonious blend of sweet and spicy notes.

With a foundation of rich caramel and vanilla, this bourbon unfolds on the palate with hints of dried fruit, cinnamon, and a touch of oak, creating a complex and satisfying tasting experience appreciated by bourbon enthusiasts.

How long is New Riff single barrel aged?

The aging process for New Riff Single Barrel bourbon is carefully conducted to ensure optimal maturation and flavor development.

Typically, this bourbon is aged for a minimum of four years in new charred American oak barrels.

This extended aging period allows the spirit to absorb the characteristics of the wood, resulting in a well-balanced and mature bourbon with depth and complexity.

How old is New Riff single barrel rye?

New Riff Single Barrel Rye, like its bourbon counterpart, undergoes meticulous aging to achieve its desired flavor profile.

Generally, it is aged for a minimum of four years, allowing the rye whiskey to develop a nuanced and robust character.

The aging process contributes to the rye’s spicy and fruity notes, creating a well-rounded and sophisticated expression.

Who makes New Riff bourbon?

New Riff Bourbon is crafted by New Riff Distilling, a distillery located in Newport, Kentucky.

Founded in 2014 by Ken Lewis, a seasoned industry professional, New Riff Distilling is dedicated to producing high-quality, non-chill-filtered spirits using a transparent and traditional approach.

The distillery’s commitment to innovation and respect for time-honored bourbon-making traditions is reflected in the exceptional quality of New Riff Bourbon.

Is bourbon a sweet or bitter drink?

Bourbon is generally characterized by a balanced and complex flavor profile that includes both sweet and spicy notes.

While sweetness is a hallmark of many bourbons, thanks to the caramelization of sugars during the aging process, the presence of charred oak barrels imparts additional complexity and can introduce subtle bitter undertones.

The interplay between sweetness and bitterness, along with the influence of other flavor components, results in a nuanced and well-rounded taste that appeals to a broad spectrum of palates.

Ultimately, the specific flavor profile of a bourbon can vary based on factors such as the mash bill, aging process, and individual distillery techniques.

Is New Riff bourbon whiskey?

Yes, New Riff Bourbon is indeed a type of whiskey. Specifically, it falls under the category of bourbon, meeting the criteria set by law for bourbon production.

This means it is a whiskey distilled in the United States from a mash bill containing at least 51% corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, and distilled to no more than 160 proof before entering the barrel.

What makes single barrel whiskey better?

Single barrel whiskey is often considered superior due to its unique and distinctive characteristics.

Each barrel imparts distinct flavors to the whiskey, influenced by factors like the wood, location in the warehouse, and the aging process.

This individuality allows enthusiasts to experience the nuances of a particular barrel, making single barrel whiskey a sought-after choice for those who appreciate the complexity and uniqueness that can arise during the aging process.

What is the difference between whiskey and bourbon?

While all bourbons are whiskey, not all whiskeys are bourbon. The key differences lie in the specific production regulations.

Bourbon, a type of whiskey, must be produced in the United States, contain a mash bill with at least 51% corn, be distilled to no more than 160 proof, and be aged in new charred oak barrels.

Whiskey, on the other hand, is a broad category that encompasses various styles, including bourbon, Scotch, rye, and more, with different production methods and regional distinctions.

Why is aged bourbon better?

Aging is a crucial factor in the development of bourbon’s flavor and character. As bourbon matures in new charred oak barrels, it undergoes a process of interaction with the wood, leading to the extraction of compounds that contribute to its complexity.

Aged bourbon often exhibits a smoother texture, with flavors like caramel, vanilla, and oak becoming more pronounced and well-integrated.

The aging process allows the whiskey to mellow, creating a balanced and refined product that is highly regarded among connoisseurs.

Where is New Riff made?

New Riff Bourbon is proudly crafted in Newport, Kentucky. Situated along the banks of the Ohio River, New Riff Distilling, founded in 2014 by Ken Lewis, has established itself as a prominent distillery in the region.

The location’s rich bourbon heritage and the distillery’s commitment to traditional craftsmanship contribute to the exceptional quality and character of New Riff Bourbon.

Final Verdict: New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Review

The New Riff single barrel bourbon lacks flavor complexity and depth, but its broad and rich, sweet caramel and clove hints and overall value are hard to miss. 

Honestly, it wasn’t as great as the other single-barrel bourbons we tried. However, this barrel-proof bourbon is not a bad choice at just a bit over $50. 

You’ll definitely get that extra kick and richness after a few sips.


  1. Rye
  2. What Is Bourbon Whiskey?
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