The New Riff Distillery has released their first Bourbon distilled completely by them. It is a Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon. I picked up a bottle and was going to review it when I was contacted by Hank Spicer from the Cleveland Bourbon Co-op. They picked a barrel of the New Riff Bourbon and had it bottled as a Single Barrel, Barrel Proof offering. Hank wanted to know if I would like a sample to review and I said yes. I thought I would review the two together and look at the differences, if any.
The Bottled-in-Bond is off the shelf. New Riff wanted their first Bourbon to be bonded and I am happy to see that they have done so. I am also happy to see that they have placed the old tax stamp information on the bottle telling us the season and the year it was distilled and the season and year it was bottled. The big distilleries quit doing this after the 1984 de-regulation of the industry that did away with the tax stamp. I always regretted that event as I think the consumer should have that information. I hope other distilleries follow New Riff’s lead on disclosure of this information.
New Riff also offers a single barrel program for a barrel strength expression of their Bourbon. The Cleveland Bourbon Co-op partnered with the Pittsburgh Whiskey Friends, who took one third of the barrel, to make this purchase. The Cleveland group has over a thousand members, but they selected a committee of six people to make their barrel selection. Samples were sent to them and the selection was made. I am glad to taste that they went for a different flavor profile than the Bonded Bourbon. A good single barrel selection should taste different from the normal expression or else it is a waste of time and money – just purchase the normal expression.
New Riff Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
Age: 4 years old – Fall 2014 to Fall 2018
Nose: Vanilla and berries with a hint of oak and spice.
Taste: Vanilla with berries and cherries with some pepper spice and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the vanilla comes forward and the spice becomes more of a nutmeg. Tasted with a pecan and the oak and pepper dominate the flavor.
Finish: Medium long and spicy. The cranberry reduces the spice and makes the finish more of a sweet vanilla. The pecan makes the finish much longer with more oak and less spice.
New Riff Single Barrel picked by The Cleveland Bourbon Co-op
Age: 4 years old – Distilled November 3, 2014; Bottled November 6, 2018.
Nose: Vanilla and corn with a hint of oak and spice.
Taste: Vanilla and citrus with lots of nutmeg and a little cinnamon. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the spice is reduced and the vanilla comes forward strong. Tasted with the pecan and the spice is enhanced with a white pepper note added to the mix.
Finish: Long and dry with lots of spice and a hint of oak. The cranberry makes the finish shorter and sweeter while the pecan makes it very long and spicy.
I decided to pick a single cigar to pair with both of these Bourbons. I decided upon a Davidoff Chef’s Edition 2018 because I find the smoke to be very umami driven with tobacco, mushrooms and cedar spice. The Bonded Bourbon made the smoke much sweeter with some vanilla notes as well as the cedar spice. The Single Barrel made the smoke spicy with some baking spices and pepper. The smoke made the Bonded Bourbon a bit more fruity adding orange peel to the fruits already there. In the Single Barrel the citrus was enhanced and actually added a little more balance to the flavors. The cigar works well with both of these Bourbons
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller and Michael Veach