Whiskey Review: Bender’s Rye Whiskey (New York Batch)

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Bender’s Rye is made by Bender’s Whiskey, located on the comically named Treasure Island in San Francisco’s Bay Area. It’s yet another Canadian sourced rye repackaged and refinished for the American market.

The Bender’s NYC Rye edition of Bender’s Rye, which is different then a batch we reviewed last year, is an ode to the distiller’s first visit to New York City. A Canadian sourced blend of 51% eight-year-old rye and 49% seven- to 13-year-old corn, Bender’s NYC was also partially refinished in American oak for 14 months and French Limousin oak for an unstated amount of time. Bender’s notes that although the two sourced whiskies are both from Alberta, Canada, they were produced in different styles using different stills. Bender’s NYC blend is 48% ABV.

Bender's Rye Whiskey

image via Bender’s Rye

Tasting Notes: Bender’s NYC Rye

Appearance: Medium-dark gold in the glass.

Nose: At first sharp, and then very heavy citrus. Chlorine, lemon oil, and gingersnap cookies present initially, with a little opening time giving way to overwhelming citrus notes. After a considerable amount of time sitting in the glass, waxy vanilla sugar notes come through, with the initial sharpness still present. Reminiscent of a whiskey-scented candle a la Bed Bath & Beyond.

Palate: Incredibly sweet and syrupy, with little to no rye spice present. Slightly sharp and bitter, the citrus oil from the nose transforms into citrus pith on the palate. Corn syrup, Golden Grahams, graham crackers, and caramel dipping sauce. Although Bender’s has a slight bitter streak, the sickly sweet element of the spirit crushes all hope for balance. The palate is overwhelmed by too-sweet cereal notes. The finish is again tooth-achingly sweet. Soggy cereal sweetness remains on the palate a good deal longer than necessary.

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Bender’s NYC blend proves to be yet another valiant attempt to make a sourced spirit that speaks to the blender’s style. However, it is clear that in this case the dram ended up being over-finished and muddied. If there were any rye-forward elements to this spirit, they got eaten up by heavy wood sugars a long time ago. Truly not the worst craft whiskey out there, but one that seems to have been overwhelmed by a heavy hand in the finishing and blending process.