Kentucky’s New-school Riff Distillery Goes All-in on Malt

Bottles of Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey and Maltster T50 Crystal Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
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“The secret to the Maltster T50 is that two exceptional malts are at play, creating a dance of gentle rye spice and molten toffee,” Erisman says.

Maltster T50 Crystal Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey tasting notes

The exact mashbill is 65 percent corn, 20 percent malted rye, and 15 percent T50 Crystal Malt. Notice the use of malted rye here instead of the more common un-malted rye. We got to sample this whiskey, and it stands out with notes of spice, milk and dark chocolate, pecan, and some cherry on the palate. Try this against the core New Riff bourbon, or any bourbon for that matter, and you’ll find the malted grains really do affect the flavor.

Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey tasting notes

The Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey is the more unusual of this pair, made from a mashbill of 100 percent Aroostook Kentucky-grown malted rye. New Riff’s rye grain usually comes from Germany, but this whiskey was produced using Kentucky rye that was malted by Sugar Creek Malt Co. in Lebanon, Indiana.

According to Erisman, this resulted in a profound difference in flavor from the whiskey made with German malted rye previously released by the distillery. We got to try this as well, and noticed a surprisingly minimal amount of spice on the palate, with intense fruit and chocolate notes that really kick in as you sip followed by big biscuit and shortbread flavors. This is altogether a unique rye whiskey.

New Riff was founded in 2014, but in less than a decade has proven itself over and over again to be one of the most interesting new-school Kentucky distilleries on the scene. These two new releases continue that trajectory.

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