Wednesday, November 25, 2020

New Riff Balboa Rye Bottled In Bond Kentucky Straight Rye


- $55
- 100 Proof
- 4 Years
- Kentucky

I feel like it's been a while since I had anticipation for a rye release. Certainly I was excited for the recent Master's Keep Cornerstone from Wild Turkey and the Parker's Heavy Char. But that was well over a year ago now, and I feel like there has been a dearth of new, exciting rye releases hitting the shelves.

Luckily, New Riff has come through for me. They recently released a wheated product, labeled "Maltster," and at the same time that hit the shelves, so did this, the Balboa Rye. This is a rye whiskey made using . . . you guessed it, Balboa rye, which is an heirloom rye that is commonly grown in Indiana. Beyond that, I knew very little else going into this bottle, except that it was a new, special release rye from New Riff, and that so far I've absolutely loved the ryes that New Riff has been pumping out.

The nose on this was delicious. The first note that I wrote down was cherry cola. But it was a darker cherry note, and not quite as sweet. I also got a light breadiness as well as a peanut butter cookie note. Again, though, this was all without it coming across as sweet, but rather as rich and decadent. What did it for me, though, was that all of this was complemented by a black pepper note that had my mouth watering.

As to flavor, my first impression was that it had a very Old Fashioned flair to it. I was immediately getting notes of Luxardo Maraschino cherries, as well as that bright but slightly bitter note of orange peel.  It had just the slightest amount of sweetness to it.

It very much came across as a fruit-forward rye, with cherry being the most prominent note. However, I did get notes of blackberries and dates from time to time as well.  Interestingly, though, the fruit notes all seemed to be layered over a pecan-type nuttiness. In that sense it reminded me of a spiced pie.

I did get other notes finding their way in as well, including a bit of an odd flavor that to me was kind of a blend of dark chocolate and dill.  This is probably the result of a more fruit-forward grain that still met up with that strong rye spice. It wasn't necessarily a bad note, but it was a bit odd.

The finish, however, was all cherry and vanilla. Luckily that odd chocolate-dill note did not linger. However, the black pepper I was finding on the nose did make its way through on the finish, adding enough spice to make me want to go right back in for my next sip. 

While I wasn't blown away by this, I love the experimentation with rye variants, and New Riff continues to put out delicious ryes, and this was no exception. I'd certainly urge anyone else to try it, though, as my friends who also had pours out of this bottle were, in fact, blown away and couldn't have given it higher marks. So take my review with a grain of salt. 

Grade: B+ 

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