Updated: Jan 21, 2021
New Riff Single Barrel 4 yr. - r/bourbon "Diamond in the R/IFF" - 55.5%
Context: There was a period 5-6 years ago - Age statements and brands vanishing! Retail prices soaring! - where if I liked a bottle of bourbon, I'd buy two. Logic being: by the time I finished the first bottle, there wouldn't be a replacement available at retail; and by the time it was available again at retail, the price will have probably increased. You sure can buy a lot of "guilt free" bottles when you convince yourself any option tomorrow will be both more expensive and of lower quality. So the vicious cycle ensues. Fortunately, in some small way, this bottle of New Riff represents the other end of the telescope.
Over the next few years, odds are brands like New Riff with a commitment to quality production methods - low barrel entry proof (110), their own aquifer, open air fermentation, high rye mashbill, regular sized barrels - will continue to see their product improve. Suddenly, for the first time in over a decade or so, patience in the bourbon aisle might actually score you a better bottle instead of just adding to a long list of things you'll never try.
Not only is this my first bottle of New Riff, it's the first bottle I've bought in the recent memory that didn't fall into my rubric of "You can only buy something if there's strong reason to believe it will be of lower quality and higher price in the foreseeable future." What a dumb way to live. I signed up for a bottle of this simply because our guys at r/bourbon picked it and I wanted to try something new ("best" and "value" be damned). When I was fortunate enough to get one, I realized it had been a long time since I actually bought a bottle for all the right reasons. Glad this is the one that did it.
Nose: Apples. Candied cherries. Berry Fruit Roll-Ups. Definitely fruit forward. Acorn. Wet, rotting wood. Bubblegum. Tobacco. Pretty dynamite nose at 4 years old.
Flavor: Things are a little less polished here. Herbal greens. Cherry. Mint. Oak and spice peak shortly before the finish while the bright fruits hang on mixed in with some pleasantly bitter herbs.
Palate Structure: Good mouthfeel. Full up front. Intensity builds and washes out the flavor on the back end of the palate. Finish rebounds and delivers nice length and clarity.
Alcohol Integration: Gets a little rowdier than the proof would suggestion. There's that youth coming through.
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High Rye Bourbon - younger, with a higher proof.
Score: 6 (Solid) Nose and finish are really great. Palate hasn't quite tied it all together yet. But this barrel made sure there will be more New Riff in my future.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour