New Riff Distilling has released two limited-edition fall whiskies, both continuing the distillery’s work with malted grains.
The Maltster T50 Crystal Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey both launch before the holidays. They are bottled in bond, without chill filtration.
The New Riff Maltster T50 Crystal Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey builds on past Maltster releases. Head Distiller Brian Sprance has a background in brewing, and wanted to highlight a malted barley called T50 crystal malt in this distillation. Typically used in pale ales and bitters, crystal malt lends toasty-toffee notes as well as color and head retention.
“The secret to the Maltster T50 is that two exceptional malts are at play, creating a dance of gentle rye spice and molten toffee,” says Co-founder Jay Erisman, describing the nose as “toasty with emergent rye spice, cocoa nib, and faint red fruits.” Adding a splash of water exposes more maltiness and creamier notes. The palate is “drier than the nose suggests,” he adds. On the finish, Erisman notes a “big rye flourish with gentle but insistent clove, pink peppercorn and cacao husk.”
The second fall release is a riff on New Riff’s Malted Rye program, which includes a core malted rye release that debuted in 2021, and a sherry-finished expression released earlier this year. Erisman says that when New Riff began making malted rye in 2014, the only consistent source of good quality malted rye in the necessary quantities was Germany. The distillery has imported malted rye from Germany since then, but also kept an eye on growing American craft maltsters.
“One of these is Sugar Creek Malt Co., in Lebanon, Indiana,” Erisman says. “Founder and Head Maltster Caleb Michalke offered us a rare malted rye, grown in Kentucky and using the Aroostook variety of rye grain. We were thrilled at this opportunity to try a Kentucky-grown rye, but especially to use a different variety of rye than our usual German supply.”
Sampling the Aroostook Malted Rye as it aged was interesting, Erisman says, as it showed different character from the distillery’s standard malted rye made from imported German malted rye. Grown in Kentucky and malted in Indiana, the Aroostook Malted Rye matured to be a “bolder and spicier whiskey overall” in comparison.
On the nose, the Aroostook Malted Rye opens with fruit and vanilla confection, the company reports, before developing with rye spices. Erisman notes that water turns it drier, “huskier” and draws out the fruits with notes of menthol. “The palate is medium- to full-bodied, with dark fruits and grassy cereal rye, with mint, clove and red fruit skin on the finish,” he adds.
New Riff Maltster T50 Crystal Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 100 proof, with a mashbill of 65% corn, 20% malted rye and 15% T50 Crystal Malt. It aged six years, and has a suggested retail price of $59.99. per 750-ml. bottle. It is available in limited quantities throughout portions of New Riff’s distribution footprint and through the New Riff Whiskey Club.
New Riff Kentucky-Grown Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey is bottled at 100 proof, with a mashbill of 100% Aroostook Kentucky-grown malted rye. It aged six years, and carries a suggested retail price of $59.99 per 750-ml. bottle. It is available in limited quantities throughout portions of New Riff’s distribution footprint and through the New Riff Whiskey Club.