Review: New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon – Pig & Pickle Private Barrel Pick

DSR – KY – 016: New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon – Pig & Pickle Private Barrel Pick

Company/Distillery: New Riff Distilling

Location: Newport, Kentucky

Mash Bill: 65% Non-GMO Corn, 30% Rye, and 5% Barley

Age Statement: 4 Years 4 months 10 days

Proof/ABV: 109.1 Proof/54.55% ABV

Color & Viscosity: This New Riff Pig & Pickle Barrel Pick Bourbon presents dark tawny to light auburn in color from the glass. Tilting the tasting vessel to the side, the bourbon leaves a sharp line that immediately turns to tiny perforated beads. The beads become a dense viscous lip that forms to large droplets as they creep down the sides of the glass. 

Purchase Price: $60.00 for 750 ml bottle

Bottle Label Information:

Neck Label

“Single Barrel Selection”

“Barrel Proof”

Front Label

“New Riff Single Barrel”

“Barrel Proof Without Chill Filtration”

“Sour Mash Bourbon”

“Kentucky Straight Whiskey”

“Proof 109.1 | Alc./Vol. 54.55”

Back Label

“A New Riff on an Old Tradition”

“Each New Riff barrel is singular in personality and flavor, selected for its quality and complexity. Bottled at Barrel Proof and Without Chill Filtration, we preserve the character of the barrel all the way to your glass.”

“Aged At Least 4 Years”


“Distilled, Aged and bottled by New Riff Distilling, Newport, Kentucky”

Side Label

“Single Barrel”

“Selected and bottled exclusively for: Pig & Pickle @PIGNPICKLE”

“Barrel Distilled On: 7.27.17”

“Barrel Bottled On: 12.7.21”

“Notes: Freshly charred oak, warm cornbread, brown butter, citrus forward rye spice, cinnamon stick”

“Barrel Number 4441”

Distillery Background

New Riff Distilling

New Riff Distilling of Newport, Kentucky, was founded in 2014 by Ken Lewis. Mr. Lewis had previously been a teacher and entrepreneur who founded The Party Source, a mega liquor store known for being the largest liquor store in the United States. In 2014, Lewis sold his ownership in The Party Source to his employees, by way of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), in order to finance and officially launch New Riff Distillery.

New Riff was built by Ken with the desire to, “One day be counted among the world’s great small distilleries.” In order to accomplish this goal, Mr. Lewis runs New Riff Distillery as a small family business, with no outside investors or voices. This allows the distillery to block out a lot of noise that could pull it in many different and contradictory directions. Lewis’ background uniquely positions him to be both a teacher and entrepreneur while also leading his team at the distillery. New Riff commits itself to upholding the statutes of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 as a way to ensure the quality of its products. They pride themselves on making whiskey the right way – cutting no corners or avoiding the quick aging of their products. It appears to be working, as New Riff Distillery has started to make a name for themselves as a key player in the Kentucky whiskey scene.

In an industry where distilleries can, at times, act and produce behind a veil, New Riff goes against the grain. Instead of being like many of their peers, the distillers at New Riff believe in transparency – they disclose their process, mash bills, and will go as far as enclosing their column still in a glass room, allowing anyone to see inside as production occurs.

This distillery will be one to keep an eye on as they continue to mature and make a name for themselves as a “New Riff on an old Tradition.”

Check out more about New Riff Distillery and their process at their website.

New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon

New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon is made using limestone water, pulled from an aquifer directly below the distillery, followed by a period of open fermentation, then distilled in a copper column still, and finally aged in 53 gallon barrels for at least 4 years. Each New Riff Single Barrel is hand selected by a production panel at the distillery before being chosen for bottling. Our bottle is made of a high-rye mash bill which has a make up of 35% rye, is bottled at just over 105 proof, non-chill filtered, and aged at just over 4 years.

Pig & Pickle

Pig & Pickle is a podcast hosted by Richard Schooley and Walker Ham. The podcast launched in January of 2020 and covers many topics including sports, beer, and bourbon. Christian and Mike first met Pig & Pickle through their connection in the fitness community known as F3 (Fitness, Faith, and Fellowship). Rickhouse Ramblings appeared on the podcast with Schooley and Ham in June of 2021. Follow the podcast on Facebook and Twitter using their handle, @thepignpickle. Their podcast can be located on Apple Podcast at The Pig N Pickle.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: June 20, 2022 – Neat in Glencairn Glass, then a second time with an ice cube.


Christian: As I take a quick nosing from the bottle of this New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon selected by podcast hosts Pig & Pickle, I am met first by an aroma that is likely from the plastic wrapper, sticker adhesive, or rubber cork. The smell is not from the whiskey but does prevent a lot of the aromas from the bourbon itself from coming through. The experience in my Glencairn glass is worlds different. A robust burst of sweet corn erupts from my glass and it is quickly joined by delicate touches of warm vanilla and confectionery sugar. Swirling my glass allows just a hint of torched caramelized sugar, fresh pie crust, and typical rye baking spices to pop. Adding an ice cube to this pour really sweetens up the darker notes in the nose. Dark brown sugar, rich tobacco, and just a touch of vanilla bean all compliment the corn notes. The nose is really tantalizing with the added ice.

Mike: From the bottle, this bourbon initially produces a spicy dill aroma. I have had a similar experience with another whiskey and I think it has something to do with the adhesive sealing the label strip over the cork. Nevertheless, zesty tobacco and muted brown sugar notes are detected from the bottle. 

As this New Riff bourbon sits in the glass and I slowly draw the glass to my nose, the aromas produced are very sweet, much like a fresh bag of powdered sugar. A subtle transition to lightly sweetened fresh brewed tea arrives next. A gentle swirl and pulling the glass away and then forward towards the nose again offers delicate fragrances of sweet pears with a charge of ethanol. Letting this rye-forward bourbon settle in the glass really draws out the brown sugar notes.


Christian: The private barrel selection of New Riff Bourbon is velvety yet dense on my tongue. Sweet corn jumps immediately on to my palate and slowly gives way to a slight earthiness akin to roasted peanuts and touches of oak barrel char. A second pass allows notes of cinnamon, clove, and a sweetness similar to creme brulee to take center stage. Ice allows the baking spice of cinnamon to meld nicely with the sweetness of the vanilla creme brulee, bringing a dessert quality to this pour–sweet and decadent!

Mike: This Pig & Pickle barrel pick packs a punch of rye spice right off the bat. Medium bodied on the palate, it extends with a brisk apple crispiness up front as cinnamon-heavy baking spices move across the tongue. Faint hints of leather and cured tobacco attempt to join in, but struggle to stake their claim as soft notes of whipped buttercream begin to cultivate.


Christian: Man, this Single Barrel New Riff selection by Pig & Pickle has a long, bold, high power finish to it. To me, this hits well over its 109.1 proof point. The Kentucky hug grips you strongly and wells up in the chest where it just nestles for some time. After the punch of spice dissipates, nuanced flavors of burnt brown sugar, vanilla, oak barrel char, and apple cinnamon oatmeal all tickle the taste buds. Boy, the added ice cube really tames this finish and makes it approachable. Loads of brown sugar, vanilla, apple, and cinnamon exploded on the palate long after the whiskey is enjoyed.

Mike: This whiskey delivers a substantially long finish but isn’t overpowering; just consistent heat from tongue to throat and down into the chest where it settles. This New Riff Single Barrel is perfect for a crisp fall night outside by the campfire as it will warm you from the inside and provide a subtle smokiness on the palate in the finish. 

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: What Pig & Pickle found here is a single barrel offering that stays pretty close to traditional New Riff Bourbon offering profile but with a little bit of an attitude. Drinking the pour neat, you may have an experience that is a little bit polarizing. Some folks will absolutely gush over the ass kicking rye punch that is present when enjoyed neat. However that same quality will be a little bit too bold and hot for others. Personally, I think this barrel pick by Pig & Pickle really shines with the addition of just a single ice cube. This allows the whiskey to soften, blending harmoniously with a sweet complementary array of flavors that mesh well together and provide a balanced enjoyable drinking experience. I enjoy offerings from New Riff and this private selection by Pig & Pickle is no different! Cheers!

Rating: 3.75 Rickhouses

Mike: This is New Riff through and through. Nothing really stands out to me from a flavor profile that separates it from their standard single barrel offering but that isn’t a bad thing.  Overall, New Riff Single Barrel is bold and spicy, but does not present sustained flavors. This barrel pick from Pig n Pickle is nice but lacks enough identity to make it unique. This is a very good sipper and as it breathes, it begins to open up even more. I typically find pleasure when drinking New Riff and this barrel pick hits the mark but also tends to lack the individuality needed to set it apart from the standard offering. 

Rating: 3.5 Rickhouses


2 thoughts on “Review: New Riff Single Barrel Bourbon – Pig & Pickle Private Barrel Pick

  1. Curious about the finish…wonder how strong it would be with a cigar…thanks for the review.

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