If you’re looking for a more grown-up alternative to curling up with a cup of hot cocoa, try New Riff Distilling’s Winter Whiskey.
The special-edition spirit is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey infused with chocolate malt and malted oat. New Riff has been producing a limited annual holiday run of Winter Whiskey since 2020 — but once it’s sold out, it’s gone for the season.
New Riff describes the taste as “a conversation between the dry cocoa quality of the chocolate malt, a balanced amount of oak and a unique spicy quality distinct from that of rye. The finish dances away on the oaty spice, with hints of Belgian cocoa.”
It isn’t sweet and instead offers a “delicate dryness.”
“What we today call ‘Winter Whiskey’ began life as ‘chocolate oatmeal stout bourbon,’ New Riff co-founder Jay Erisman tells CityBeat via email. “It was the result of a conversation between me and our brilliant head distiller Brian Sprance, who had a long career in some of Cincinnati’s top craft breweries before joining New Riff. I asked Brian about using oats in a bourbon mash bill. Some places make wheated bourbon, right? Why can’t we make oated bourbon?”
“And it was Brian’s brewer brain that went into a classic oatmeal stout recipe, and then a chocolate oatmeal stout, mashed with a specially roasted barley called chocolate malt,” Erisman continues. “The result was one of the wildest whiskeys we’ve ever made, which we released for the first time in 2020 as ‘Winter Whiskey,’ an annual celebration of good cheer and great whiskey.”
Winter Whiskey is bottled in bond at 100 proof — sans chill filtration — and has aged at least four years. It’s available for $49.99 in New Riff’s in-house gift shop.
New Riff Distilling is located at 24 Distillery Way, Newport. More info: newriffdistilling.com.