O.K.I. Reserve is an 8-year-old, 35% rye bourbon sourced by New Riff Distilling (from nearby MGPI). New Riff opened in the spring of 2014 in Newport, Kentucky, just on the other side of the river from Cincinnati. The stunning new distillery is owned by Ken Lewis, former president of the Wine and Spirits Guild of America and former owner of The Party Source, a northern Kentucky liquor store.
While O.K.I. Reserve is sourced from MGPI, New Riff's 60-foot-tall Vendome still is on full blast. They're making whiskey for their own stocks and contract distilling for other anonymous operations to keep cash flowing in.
In addition to O.K.I. Reserve, Lewis also sells O.K.I. Rye, O.K.I. Single Barrel, and O.K.I. bourbons finished in used beer barrels from nearby Ei8ht Ball Brewing.
The name O.K.I. signifies the whiskey history of greater Cincinnati- once a hub of whiskey production. As the label declares, O.K.I. is "distilled in Indiana, bottled in Kentucky, and enjoyed in Ohio." So why didn't they call it I.K.O.?
New Riff Distilling
$45 at Liquor Barn in Louisville, KY
Color: Rich, deep amber.
Nose: The nose is just classic. A mouth-watering combination of caramel, vanilla, oak, leather, and warm rye bread.
Tasting Notes: Again, classic vanilla and caramel sweetness. Before long, the spice pops in the mouth- I get cinnamon candies, white pepper, and some barrel char. The finish is very dry and lingers for days like campfire smoke in the mouth.