When we reviewed New Riff’s rye whiskey release last spring, we mentioned that, like its bourbon, a single barrel program wouldn’t be far behind. Well, sure enough, New Riff single barrel rye started popping up last summer, although private barrels don’t seem to be quite as prevalent as the bourbon. On a recent trip to Kentucky, I decided to pick up a bottle at the distillery, the first bottle in fact released at the gift shop in Newport (Barrel #15-3959). Like the standard straight rye, this is a four year old product made from a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted rye. Let’s check it out!
On the nose, this one is very much unlike the standard rye. It’s thick and savory with a big lacing of mesquite wood and campfire smoke. There’s traces of the brighter mint, honey, and citrus in the standard offering, but they’re buried under mouthwatering layers of cured and peppered meats and charcoal. The palate isn’t nearly as savory, which is probably for the best, showing lots of rich spice cabinet, a woody edge of mahogany furniture, and only a little sweetness in notes of currant and blackberry preserves. It’s rounded and balanced with a refined heat that carries all the way into the long, peppery finish.
This is far removed from the standard stuff, but that’s the real fun of a barrel pick, isn’t it? While your mileage will most certainly vary with other selections, this is a good example of the uniqueness you can probably expect.