New Riff Releases First Sour Mash Single Malt Whiskey

In line with the company’s commitment to both innovation and tradition, Newport, Kentucky-based New Riff Distilling is releasing the first bottling of its Sour Mash Single Malt whiskey later this month. The distillery first shared the news about the Sour Mash Single Malt project in July 2023, but started distilling batches of malt whiskey back in 2014. A bold new concept in the time-honored Kentucky regimen, Sour Mash Single Malt weaves malty flavors with oaken age. For more information, visit

“On one hand, it is entirely different from everything else we’ve ever made,” said co-founder Jay Erisman. “But on the other, it is entirely faithful to our mission to be a ‘new riff on an old tradition,’ using the sour mash regimen to explore another classic whiskey tradition.”

The earliest distillations of the guarded internal project started in the first few months of the distillery’s existence. Over the years, they’ve explored additional mashbills and barrels, filling barrels at 110 proof and letting them age quietly in Northern Kentucky. 

Anticipated to be released annually, the exact blend of New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt will change slightly from year to year. The 2023 release, comprised of five of the six recipes, consists of whiskey distilled from 2014-2016, ranging from 7 to 8 years old.

Six different mashbills have been created using a range of different malted barleys and a variety of cask types, Erisman said, which are vatted together into one harmonious expression. The mashbills include four whiskeys made with 100% barley varietals—Golden Promise, Maris Otter, Chevallier heirloom barley, and Scottish peated barley malt—as well as 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.

“American Single Malt is a growing category in the whiskey industry and pending legislation will give it a firm identity — but even within that, we believe New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt is a complex and provocative malt whiskey enterprise,” Erisman said.

Expect a “kaleidoscopic malt whiskey experience,” Erisman said. “Most of all, it is huge in body and mouthfeel due to the Kentucky regimen of sour mashing and column still distillation in a way that malt whiskeys from other regions rarely develop.”

Sour Mash Single Malt, 100% malted barley, MSRP $69.99/750mL, will be bottled at cask strength, and like all New Riff products, without chill filtration. It will be available at New Riff’s distillery gift shop in Newport, Ky., and at select retailers across New Riff’s national distribution network beginning in early October.

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