New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt (Fall 2023 Vatting)


Classification: Single Malt

Company: New Riff Distilling

Distillery: New Riff Distilling

Release Date: September 2023

Proof: 113.8

Age: 7 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed blend of 5 out of the 6 following malt whiskeys:

-100% Maris Otter
-100% Golden Promise
-Belgian Quadrupel-style
-100% Scottish Peated Barley Malt
-100% Chevallier Heirloom Malted Barley

Color: Dark Bronze

MSRP: $70 / 750mL (2024)

Official Website

Press Release

Known for their bourbons and ryes, New Riff Distilling’s Sour Mash Single Malt is a new ongoing annual release for the Newport, Kentucky company that is part of their Malt Whiskey Project. Co-founder Jay Erisman states “Six different mashbills have been created using a range of different malted barleys and a variety of cask types, 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 brand states that for the inaugural release in the fall of 2023, the mashbill used 5 of the 6 malt whiskeys distilled between 2014-2016, encompassing 11 different malted barley varieties and a multitude of undisclosed cask types.

The bottle in review comes from the Fall 2023 Vatting with designation number


Being composed of five distinct mashbills, you might expect this whiskey to open up with a bang, and you’d be right. Rich flavors of fudge, coffee ice cream, burnt caramel, and light nougat waft out of the glass. Exploring further brings about rich oak, malted barley, vanilla, and citrus rind. The aroma is multilayered and extremely enjoyable, pulling you back in again and again to inhale its rich scents.


The flavor train continues into the palate with baking chocolate, mixed summer berries, vanilla, and oak kicking things off nicely. Dry tobacco leaf is present along with a slight mixed peppercorn note, which adds a slight bite to the sip. For those expecting more of a traditional American single malt profile based on the mashbills used, the actual midpoint is more reminiscent of a well-aged bourbon versus a malt whiskey. Neither good nor bad, this trait allows the sip to carry with it a distinguished flavor profile in the palate.


The finish starts more straightforward, with dry oak, heavy malt, white peppercorn, and a simmering heat racing ahead. However, as these flavors start to fade, pipe tobacco and a bright berried fruit tart come into play, adding a nice dichotomy to the composition of the end of the sip. These flavors eventually fade, leaving dried oak and a light-baked pie crust note lingering in its wake. The whiskey grips your taste buds and hangs on for dear life, allowing you to extend your time before going back for another sip while you contemplate what you just drank.


New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt Fall 2023 Vatting tries something both new and borrowed. On the new front, the distillery showcases its take on single malt whiskey. While there is no legal definition of American single malt, there is a loose set of rules that a coalition of distilleries is trying to form into law. Notably, New Riff is not on this list which allows them more freedom in their ability to create malted whiskeys. The end result is a whiskey that is different from what you might expect out of Westward Whiskey, Yellowstone, and a number of other brands releasing American single malts.

On the borrowed font, New Riff is pulling a page right out of Four Roses’ playbook by utilizing a blend of multiple recipes to form this whiskey. While the company has stated the pool of mashbills used for now will stay the same year after year, the exact recipe of what ones are chosen to blend together will change. This provides New Riff a ton of creative freedom to come up with a distinct variation each year that should taste slightly similar, yet altogether different at the same time. It may not be a completely new concept, but due to the time-consuming nature of distilling, aging, and blending each of these unique mashbills, you don’t see too many companies go this route. Kudos to New Riff for going down this path, as it should be exciting to see how each year’s release changes based on the recipe used that year.


While brands seem to be continuously one-upping each other when it comes to new release pricing, New Riff Distilling has seemingly managed not to get drawn into this tactic. Instead, the company is known for charging a slightly elevated yet reasonable price for their limited or annual releases. In the case of New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt Fall 2023 Vatting, the company once again chooses to take this route.

Considering the number of mashbills and various grains the company uses, for this Malt Whiskey Project, this whiskey price of $70 actually comes across as reasonable. For its price, you’re getting a nicely aged single malt that uses 5 distinct mashbills composed of grains and styles that deviate from the company’s standard bourbon and rye products. I wouldn’t fault New Riff for charging $100 or more for this line, especially when you take into account the quality of the whiskey in the bottle. The company should be applauded for not following the trend of ever-increasing prices, and instead offering this at a price that, while elevated compared to their standard products, is more than reasonable for this release.


Providing its own take on single malt whiskey, New Riff Distilling has managed to produce a product that is wholly their own, which will delight fans of the brand.

New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt Fall 2023 Vatting is a really good whiskey, however it won’t be for everyone. Specifically, those who are expecting it to taste similar to other American single malts on the market will be in for a head-scratching sip. While it may not taste like others on the market, that’s where it truly shines.

The inaugural release of the Malt Whiskey Project from New Riff is a really great whiskey. Its flavor profile is robust, especially in the nose and finish where the whiskey shines its brightest. Its midpoint holds it back from elevating itself, but still provides a soiree of flavors that shape the overall sip nicely. With a reasonable price point, and the use of 5 out of the 6 malt whiskey mashbills the company has to play with, fans of New Riff will most likely really enjoy this release. For others looking to continue to explore single malts distilled in America, this represents another unique expression that is gaining steam in the American whiskey market space.

The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy its respective company. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
360 video

Written By: Jordan Moskal

June 5, 2024
photo of author
Available at these retailers
New Riff Sour Mash Single Malt (Fall 2023 Vatting)
Also Check out
No items found.
Reviews By This Author
Recent Reviews
Recent Articles
  • Exclusive Content
  • new content summary
  • bourbon in the news
  • social media roundup
Terms of UsePrivacy PolicyEthics PolicyCommenting Policy