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Photos: Inside New Riff Distillery

The New Riff Distillery in Newport opens to the public on Thursday.

The River City News got a sneak peak inside on Wednesday before the evening's VIP event where the ribbon will be cut.

The 30,000 square feet modern distillery sits adjacent to The Party Source in Bellevue and is the newest addition to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The distillery is expected to be a popular tourist attraction and hopes to bring in 40,000 visitors in its first year.

"The New Riff Distillery will allow us to celebrate Kentucky's heritage while producing a world-class product that will only enhance the visitor experience," said New Riff founder Ken Lewis.

Tours will be free and are designed for bourbon enthusiasts and those just looking for something fun to do in the city.

Jay Erisman, production manager, and Brian Sprance, head distiller, spent Wednesday showing off the new structure to members of the media. "We are excited to be able to dictate our production levels based on what we want to make rather than how much we make," they said in a joint statement.

In addition to being a working distillery, New Riff will also host private events. Amy Tobin, New Riff's creative director, said events have been booked already into 2015. "I love working in such an incredible space with a dynamic team," Tobin said. "We have the chance to bring our ideas to life and that opportunity is not lost on any of us."

The sleek third floor bar, expansive outdoor balcony with skyline views, and second floor master kitchen and dining room will attract parties and events from all over.

The stills, visible from outside, include a traditional, hand-operated three-story column still set to produce bourbon and rye, inspired by the classic whiskeys of Kentucky, making twelve 53-gallon barrels per day. A 500-gallon pot still will be used with barley mashes from New Riff's on-site Ei8ht Ball Brewery for making anything from malt whiskey to gins and other spirits.

At the end of April, New Riff announced that it had joined the 134-year old Kentucky Distillers' Association. "(Lewis) has built a first-class operation and aseembled a great team of distilling and whiskey experts," said Joe Fraser, chairman of the KDA board of directors, in a news release last month. "They are a welcome addition to our organization, our growing craft industry, and flourishing tourism adventure."

New Riff is the nineteenth member of the association and the eleventh craft member, as well as the ninth member on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.

"We have a great respect for the bourbon and the distillers who have come before us," Lewis said. "So, for us, this venture is not about reinventing the wheel. It's about creating our own sound."

"New Riff Distillery is where the shared passions for spirits, collaboration, and creating the unexpected will intertwine, and where new time-honored traditions are born. We are urban with old roots, bringing our own 'new riff' to Kentucky's legendary bourbon tradition."

Staff Report

Photos by RCN