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8-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

New Riff Distilling’s 8-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon
It is often noted that patience is a virtue. Many walks of life—parenting come to mind—require considerable exercise of patience, or development of same if it is lacking. We all of us can think of people who require our patience, or, Lord knows, were patient with us. Patience is good. But there must be a special entry in the annals of Patience for whiskey makers. Not weeks and months or seasons, but years are required of the Whiskeymaker—and all of those who go along with her, like the Warehouseman, the Bottler, the Truck Driver and many more—before the fruits of her labor may be enjoyed. But happily, there is another quality of Patience: of a day, some day, Patience will be rewarded. And today, my friends, is that day, when the Whiskeymaker and her friends and fans may raise a well-deserved glass to their lips and enjoy a new whiskey—

Introducing New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Aged Eight Years. It was a long time coming, but perhaps now, it’s appropriate that our first older expression of our flagship Bourbon comes out in our tenth anniversary year. We have held back about 20 to 30 percent of our production every year to become “older”—and here it is, the first older New Riff and far from the last, as we continue to preserve some aged stocks for additional aging.

The aromas and flavors present in this eight-year iteration are amplified and deeper versions of the high-rye style of standard New Riff: it is the same mashbill, cooperage and everything else, after all. There is an added measure of richness; the “aged” flavors are, simply, “more aged.” What’s fascinating to me here, however, is not the specific sort of flavors at hand—is it sweeter, or spicier, or there’s a touch more oak? The fact is, not all Kentucky Bourbons successfully age out to eight years or more; some quite famous examples peter out by eight or nine, gaining too much oak and becoming unpleasantly woody. For us whiskeymakers, that’s the central premise of an eight-year-old New Riff? Have we made a whiskey that can make the old bones?

For that is what’s special about any drink or food that is aged. From Parmigiano cheese to Taiwanese fermented tofu, pu erh tea to Barolo wine, the foodstuffs we humans have crafted to age are really, really special, perhaps the best things to taste that a given culture has to offer. And here in Kentucky—well, along with the country ham—that would be Bourbon whiskey. It ought properly to be the goal of all Kentucky distillers to make a whiskey that can go the distance, age in the barrels out to eight and 12 and 15 years, and be truly great. So where does that leave our Eight-Year-Old? For a team of people who never distilled a drop in their lives before opening New Riff in 2014, how did we do? The truth is, our flagship Bourbon recipe in this release has made it all the way to eight…without. breaking. a sweat. This whiskey is utterly fresh, by no means whatsoever showing the effects of age, or too much wood and tannin. It seems like it’s ready for another eight years, such is the striking freshness on the palate. It’s a wonderful harbinger of what’s to come from New Riff at even older ages.

Sharp-eyed New Riff fans will note this bottle is not labeled as Bottled-in-Bond. For the first time (other than our various barrel proof bottlings, especially our Single Barrel whiskeys), New Riff has dropped the bonded status for a whiskey—and for this one? Our long-awaited, extra aged release? What gives? In fact, this particular bottling could, in fact, roll out as a BIB, because all the barrels come from the Spring 2015 season; and it fulfils all other BIB parameters for BIB, and is 100 proof, New Riff’s permanent minimum proofing. However, in making up these longer aged expressions, we needed the flexibility to mix barrels from one season with those of another—in short, the ability to blend barrels from, say, June, with those from July. Hopefully in the fullness of time our older whiskeys will revert to full bonded status. We just made a lot less whiskey eight years ago and dropping the seasonality requirement will allow us to bring this to market in a more plentiful fashion.

To that end, for this initial eight-year-old Bourbon, we vatted up barrels from June of 2015 stretching back to January 2015, bottling them together in the spring of 2024. That’s right: the oldest whiskey in this bottle (two barrels from 1/15/15) is nine years old, and the youngest (one barrel from 6/10/15) is at least eight years and eight months old.

These notes promise a bright future for our aged whiskey. Perhaps, just maybe, our whiskeys will drink well out to 12-15-18 years of age; maybe they will make those old bones. That close cousin of Patience, TIME, will tell—but as of today, New Riff Distilling is poised to offer the next multi-generational Bourbon (and hopefully Rye), aging out with aplomb to well over a decade in age. It’s been a long time coming. And we are, if nothing else…patient.

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