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New Riff founder to retire

The chief executive officer of New Riff Distilling, Ken Lewis, will retire in 2024 and will be replaced by Hannah Lowen.

New Riff
L-R: Hannah Lowen, Denny Gorman, Ken Lewis and Mollie Lewis

Lewis’s retirement will coincide with the distillery’s 10th anniversary. The company will then be led by a three-person leadership team, who are all current employees. Lowen, who is currently vice-president of operations, will become CEO; Mollie Lewis, currently director of sales and Lewis’s daughter, will transition to the role of president; and Denny Gorman, director of engineering and logistics, will become chief operating officer.

“From the beginning, New Riff has been about innovation — about trying new things, about growing and exploring what we could do in the whiskey space,” Ken Lewis said.
“In that spirit, it is time for a new chapter at New Riff. Although it is hard for me to leave, I am excited to see what’s ahead and to celebrate the distillery’s successes in the future. I could not imagine a better group of people to take the helm and they are the reason I know it is the right time for me to step back.”
Lowen has worked with New Riff since before its distillery opened, and established its operating systems, company branding and distillery programmes as the company launched.
Mollie has served as sales director since the New Riff was founded in 2014, and has experience as an international export manager in Italy.
Gorman is a professional engineer and joined the team in 2019 after more than a decade at The Boston Beer Company in Cincinnati.
The brand said its production and storage facilities have expanded in recent years, with a new barrel warehouse added this year and a distillery expansion that increased production by 50% in 2021.
New Riff has also increased its distribution, with its products available in 31 US states.

In March, New Riff revealed it would begin a US$3 million renovation of its public areas to improve visitor experience, including a new home for its tasting and cocktail bar.

Ken continued: “Values and company culture are important to me. New Riff is a 100% family-owned business and will stay that way.

“It’s the only way we have the independence to eschew the exclusive drive for profits, share our success with our career employees, and live up to our values. Career employees give their best years to taking care of our company and in return we will take care of them in their retirement.”

Ken has spent his career modernising Kentucky laws regarding the spirits industry, including initiating a court case that led to credit cards being allowed to purchase alcohol.

He added: “My life has meaning because of these values — how hollow a life that is selfish and greedy.

“I founded New Riff for the entrepreneurial challenge — and to create a world-class brand, enrich my community through bourbon tourism, and make a huge difference in the lives of many employee families for decades to come.”

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