New Riff Distillery - New Riff Launches Limited-Edtion Red Turkey Wheated Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Their name should be a hint. New Riff Distilling in Newport, Kentucky is known for putting a new riff on an old tradition, that tradition or theme being making Kentucky Bourbon. And their newest release is no exception.

New Riff has released its latest innovative product, a bourbon made from heirloom Red Turkey Wheat that continues the distillery’s passion for unique mashbills. This latest release is a limited edition Bottled-in-Bond Red Turkey Wheated Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Heirloom Grains Offer Flavors that are Simply Better

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“Just like heirloom tomatoes, heirloom grains offer flavors and aromas that are distinct from — and often simply better than — modern hybridized grain varieties,” said New Riff Distilling Co-Founder Jay Erisman.

“We enjoy helping to preserve these old grains, but the real reason we do it is for the flavor in the glass. We wondered what wheated bourbon would’ve tasted like 100 years ago, before modern agriculture bred so much flavor out of wheat in exchange for ever-increasing yields and ease of transport and storage.”

Erisman said Red Turkey has more protein and less starch than modern wheats, decreasing yield but offering a far wider and richer depth of flavors. “To our knowledge, this is the only Kentucky sour mash wheated bourbon produced in modern times from Red Turkey Wheat. Wheated bourbon is very popular these days, but with few exceptions it all uses modern hybrid wheat varieties.”

New Riff’s whiskey makers have hunted for heirloom grains since the early years of the distillery, Erisman said, including Balboa Rye and heirloom corn varieties like Yellow Leaming and Blue Clarage.

In 2016, New Riff reached out to local artisan bread-makers Blue Oven Bakery and asked if they were using any heirloom grains. A partnership formed, with New Riff purchasing Red Turkey Wheat from the bakery. For this first batch of Red Turkey Wheated Bourbon, the wheat was grown in Ohio and sourced from Blue Oven Bakery — and mashed with New Riff’s standard, non-GMO supply of corn and malted barley.

The New Riff Red Turkey Wheat mash bill is made with 70% corn, 25% Red Turkey Wheat, 5% malted barley.

“Every alcoholic beverage ever made begins with a plant,” Erisman said. “We choose to celebrate and save these heirloom grains and the flavors they make — lest they disappear forever.”

New Riff Red Turkey What Bourbon Tasting Notes

Tasting notes provided by distillery say the new Red Turkey Wheated Kentucky Straight Bourbon delivers “gristy, grainy, bready” notes on the nose, with a balance of oak and confection, dark fruits and a top citrus note. On the palate, the bourbon is “chewy and remarkably zesty, even citrusy,” with moments of dark stewed fruit. Erisman said it is moderately sweet and well-balanced, with hints of black cherry skin on the finish. He described the finish as “complicated and exceptionally long, zesty and full of grain character” against bright citrus and dark fruit skin.

New Riffs Red Turkey Wheated Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is aged at least five years and has been bottled-in-bond at 100 proof (50% ABV). It has a suggested retail price of $49.99 for a 750mL. It is available now in limited quantities at the distillery and throughout New Riff’s home market in Kentucky.

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New Riff Red Turkey Wheated Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

What are the Origins of Turkey Red Wheat?

Turkey Red Wheat

Children in Russia hand-picked the first seeds of this famous winter wheat for Kansas. They belonged to Mennonite Colonies preparing to emigrate from the steppes to the America prairies. A peace-loving sect, originally from Holland, the Mennonites had gone to the Crimea from Prussia in 1790 when Catherine the Great offered free lands, military exemption and religious freedom. They prospered until these privileges were threatened in 1871. Three years later they emigrated to Kansas, where the Santa Fe R.R. offered thousands of acres on good terms in McPherson, Harvey, Marion & Reno counties, and where the legislature passed a bill which exempted religious objectors from military service. Within a month after landing in New York the Mennonites planted the red~gold grains their children had selected. The harvest was the first of the great crops of hard Turkey Red and its derivatives that have made Kansas the Granary of the Nation. Photo courtesy of Kansas Historical Society Markers.

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