Rye whiskey is no doubt seeing a resurgence in popularity both as a sipping spirit and also something useful for cocktails. Stepping out from the shadow of its bourbon cousins, more and more distillers and independent bottlers are turning to it as a product to release into retail channels. One of the latest heralds from the San Francisco Bay Area, where bottler Bender’s Whiskey is sourcing a rye from Canada for its first release.
Dubbed Bender’s Rye this seven year old offering, aged in virgin charred American oak barrels and blended in small batches, is the brainchild of “two inspired individuals with a love for whiskey.” It comes from “a small independently owned distillery just south of Calgary, Alberta” that’s close to where one of the founders was born. Brought down from Canada to a facility in San Francisco, it is said to have been put through “multiple iterations of blending and perfecting before being bottled and released.”
This first batch, pricing around $50 per 750 ml bottle, is limited to just over 3,300 bottles. It was bottled at 96 proof and its mash bill was a mix of 85 percent rye and 15 percent corn. Tasting information that I can find indicate notes of “creamy vanilla, crisp red apple and cinnamon. Spicy clove and brown sugar coat the palate and continue long into the smooth finish.”
San Francisco, incidentally, seems to be a happening place for new whiskies of late, whether it is one made from a smoked chocolate oatmeal stout or one that was aged in a barrel seasoned with locally roasted coffee. A road trip from Portland to there to explore this up and coming scene may be in order soon.