New Riff Distilling Unveils Malt Whiskey Project

Sour Mash Single Malt new riff whiskey
New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt.

New Riff Distilling has announced its sour mash single malt project, a combination of malted barley and the sour mash Kentucky whiskey production method.

New Riff began distilling batches of malt whiskey back in 2014, in the first six months of the distillery’s history. Now, the first batch will debut this fall.

“Even before the distillery opened, we were talking about the possibilities of malted barley distillation using the Kentucky regimen — that is, sour mashing, open fermentation, copper column still and using a continuous doubler for the second distillation,” says co-founder Jay Erisman. “Malt whiskeys are made in Kentucky today on a modest basis — and they have a historical basis as well — but they are rarely mentioned and even more rarely bottled.”


The concept is inspired by the Celtic tradition, but also by New Riff Head Distiller Brian Sprance’s 15 years of professional brewing experience, encompassing nearly every style of modern beer.

“Our first malt whiskey came off the still before we’d even been distilling for six months,” Erisman said. “After that, one malt whiskey led to another, and another, and many types of casks . . . and all that led to a full-fledged malt whiskey program. Our single malt program represents a level of complexity and exploration in malted barley not seen before in Kentucky’s whiskey history.”


The distillery has six different malt whiskey mashbills which Erisman says will be blended into a range of New Riff malt whiskeys. The mashbills include whiskeys made with 100% Golden Promise, Maris Otter and Chevallier Heirloom malted barleys, as well as mashbills inspired by a peated Scottish barley and two beer-inspired mashbills based on classic barleywine and Belgian quadrupel recipes. Each offers a distinct flavor profile.

The malt whiskeys have matured in a variety of barrels, ranging from new charred oak, de-charred toasted oak, red wine casks, Portuguese brandy casks, classic sherried oak casks and more.

The core offering will release in fall of 2023, comprised of five of those six recipes, melded into a complete, composite whole that is “greater than the sum of its parts,” Erisman says.

Sour Mash Single Malt comes bottled at cask strength, and like all New Riff products, without chill filtration.

“We anticipate the initial single malt project to be available at select retailers across our national distribution network in early October, with more specifics to be shared closer to the release,” says CEO Hannah Lowen.

This follows recent news of the retirement of New Riff Founder and Kentucky beverage alcohol retailing legend Ken Lewis.


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