- 100 Proof
I was unaware of this release coming out from New Riff towards the end of 2020. At least until I heard all about it from my local drug dealer (i.e. liquor store manager). He had recently made a trip down to New Riff for a private barrel pick, and he got to sample this Winter Whiskey. When he came back from the trip, he couldn't shut up about how damn good it was. And when he described it as a bourbon made with oats and chocolate malted barley, I was, at the very least, intrigued.
So, of course, I now had that FOMO planted firmly in my brain, and I let anyone that would listen to me know I really wanted to get my hands on a bottle. When that time did come, I didn't realize just how limited this release would actually be, as many stores only got a few bottles. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle, though, and I was even more surprised at the price! New Riff has always been awesome about keeping their limited or special releases moderately priced, and this was no exception.
The first whiff was interesting. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was clear that this was something unique and different. I was immediately hit with a nice roasty note, along with notes of chocolate and almond. It actually reminded me a bit of Hershey's chocolate almond bars, perhaps the dark chocolate ones. It had a sweetness to it, but it was a darker, richer sweetness, like molasses. I also got a sort of spiced, baked goods note, like gingerbread
On the first sip I was hit with deep, rich malty notes. It definitely had that dark bread type flavor to it. However, many of those other notes from the nose were present as well. I got a lot of rich dark chocolate, along with those nutty notes, somewhere in between almonds and walnut.
What I think New Riff was going for here, though, and what I think they absolutely nailed, was the nice roasty flavor that I got that reminded me a lot of a porter. It was all chocolate and toasted walnut, all layered over a coffee note that wasn't super bitter but was more like a mocha (one made with good coffee). That roasted coffee and walnut note gave it just the slightest smokiness as well.
On the final pours, this drank very much like a coffee porter. It was rich and full of those roasted chocolate and coffee notes (yes, I've used the word "roasted" a lot here), pairing that rich sweetness with a light bitterness, yet all layered over a soft dark chocolate note.
On the label it states, "This unique whiskey was inspired by our brewing background." I've had many other beer-related or beer-inspired whiskeys, and I've never found one that truly impressed me . . . until now. New Riff absolutely hit the mark here with what they were going for, and, even better, the end result was a unique and absolutely delicious whiskey!! I hope they don't shelve this product and that at some point I can get my hands on some more