New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes (2023)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 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.” 


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. 

Final Thoughts

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.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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