New Riff Distilling opened in the spring of 2014 in Newport, Kentucky, just on the other side of the river from Cincinnati. The distillery is owned by Ken Lewis, former owner of The Party Source, a very popular and huge northern Kentucky liquor store.
Like many new distilleries, to begin releasing product while their own young whiskey ages they have sourced from Midwest Grain Products (MGP) for their O.K.I. brand. The name O.K.I. signifies the whiskey history of greater Cincinnati that was once a hub of whiskey production. As the label states, O.K.I. is “distilled in Indiana, bottled in Kentucky, and enjoyed in Ohio.”
In 2018, the distillery finally deemed their own line of whiskeys of age and discontinued the O.K.I. brand.
This whiskey has an incredible nose. It’s immediately evident that this is high rye bourbon with the smell of clove and fruity rye spice atop mounds of butterscotch, oak, and tobacco. The nose prepares you for a bold, even perhaps “chewy,” bourbon, but it’s actually surprisingly light-bodied and somewhat restrained on the palate. It’s sweet, but not overly so, with good heat and balanced layers of traditional bourbon flavor. There’s vanilla bean and soft baking spice, a little cinnamon Red Hots note, and some subtle fruit notes: orange and apricot. It all wraps up with a medium-length finish that leaves just a hint of chocolate on the tongue.