Kentucky’s New Riff Distilling recently announced the debut of two limited-edition fall whiskies, both building on the distillery’s exploration of malted grains.
The new Maltster T50 Crystal Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey, according to those behind them, take different directions in malt consideration. For the bourbon, it builds upon past Maltster releases in that New Riff Head Distiller Brian Sprance has a background in brewing and wanted to highlight a malted barley called T50 crystal malt in this distillation. Typically used in pale ales and bitters, crystal malt lends what’s described as “delicate toasty-toffee notes as well as color and head retention. Combined with malted rye, it creates a husky, complex high-rye bourbon.”
“The secret to the Maltster T50 is that two exceptional malts are at play, creating a dance of gentle rye spice and molten toffee,” said co-founder Jay Erisman in a prepared statement, describing the nose as “toasty with emergent rye spice, cocoa nib, and faint red fruits.” Adding a splash of water relaxes it to expose more core maltiness and creamier dulce de lechenotes. The palate is “drier than the nose suggests,” he said, with the husky details and gentle rye spices. On the finish, Erisman notes “a big rye flourish with gentle but insistent clove, pink peppercorn and cacao husk.”
Joining it is the Aroostook Malted Rye, a riff on New Riff’s Malted Rye program. When New Riff began making malted rye in 2014, it was thought “the only consistent source of good quality malted rye in the necessary quantities was Germany. The distillery has imported malted rye from Germany since then but also kept an eye on growing American craft maltster.”
“One of these is Sugar Creek Malt Co., in Lebanon, Indiana,” Erisman said. “Founder and head maltster Caleb Michalke offered us a rare malted rye, grown in Kentucky and using the Aroostook variety of rye grain. We were thrilled at this opportunity to try a Kentucky-grown rye, but especially to use a different variety of rye than our usual German supply.”
Erisman said sampling the Aroostook Malted Rye as it aged was increasingly fascinating, as it showed dramatically different character from the distillery’s standard Malted Rye made from imported German malted rye. Grown in Kentucky and malted in Indiana, the Aroostook Malted Rye matured to be what’s described as a “bolder and spicier whiskey overall” in comparison.
On the nose, according to the distillery, the Aroostook Malted Rye opens with thick-cut fruit and vanilla confection, quickly developing with rye spices. Erisman noted water turns it drier, huskier and draws out the fruits with notes of menthol. “The palate is medium- to full-bodied with dark fruits and grassy cereal rye, with mint, clove and red fruit skin on the finish,” he said.
New Riff Maltster T50 Crystal Malt Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 100 proof with a mashbill of 65% corn, 20% malted rye and 15% T50 Crystal Malt. It is aged six years and prices around $60. It is available in limited quantities throughout portions of New Riff’s distribution footprint and through New Riff’s Whiskey Club.
New Riff Kentucky-Grown Aroostook Malted Rye Whiskey is bottled at 100 proof with a mashbill of 100% Aroostook Kentucky-grown malted rye. It is aged six years and also prices around $60. It is available in limited quantities throughout portions of New Riff’s distribution footprint and through New Riff’s Whiskey Club.