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Photos: New Riff Unveils Bourbon Whiskey with Toast on Purple People Bridge

New Riff Distilling launched its new bourbon whiskey on Tuesday afternoon with a celebration - and the world's largest bourbon toast - on the Purple People Bridge in Newport.

Attendees were greeted with a branded shot glass full of the 4-year old spirit.

The product was introduced by Newport city leaders, Campbell County Judge/Executive Steve Pendery, Southbank Partners president Jack Moreland, and Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president Brent Cooper before the toast led by New Riff owner Ken Lewis.

“For most companies, it’s a category,” New Riff co-founder and vice president Jay Erisman said, noting that "bottled in bond" is the highest quality regimen of any brown spirit in the world. “If we are truly a quality-first, great whiskey is the first priority, the only thing we can do is bottled and bond.”

“All New Riff whiskey will be bottled at the world’s highest quality standard,” Erisman said.

After the conclusion of the official toast, a line formed leading up to Lewis with people hoping to clink glasses with the man who had brought them there that day. “It’s heartwarming,” Lewis said of the turnout. “In central Kentucky, people are jaded about bourbon,” he said, highlighting to effusive feedback from the Tuesday evening crowd.

After the conclusion of the toast, crowds were invited to continue the party at New Riff’s newly-opened West Newport campus at 1104 Lowell Street, along the newly rebuilt Route 9. New Riff has rehabilitated two of the buildings, and added third, that all will serve as its new rickhouses, or aging warehouses, and bottling facilities. The party featured live music, craft cocktails using the new bourbon, Rhinegeist beer, and food trucks, along with open tours of the rickhouses.

“Rangers,” customers who had participated in a program to purchase a bottle while the bourbon was still aging, as well as other supporters, lined up in the warehouse to pick up their bottles before they became available to the public Wednesday.

“We want to be one of the great small distilleries in the world,” said director of communications Amy Tobin.

Erisman said that in addition to releasing a quality product now, the bourbon will be even better in the future, as the team in the distillery honed its craft.

“It’s good now,” said Erisman. “It gets even better.”

Going forward Erisman says they are looking forward to taking the new bourbon to various seminars and festivals such as Bourbon and Beyond in Louisville and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown.

New Riff Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is available at the distillery gift shop, 24 Distillery Way in Newport starting at noon. There is a limit of one bottle per customer. 

Story & photos by Brandon Wheeler, RCN contributor

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