Bender’s whiskey marks a decade in good spirits

When Christopher Cohen was working on his first batch of Bender’s whiskey more than ten years ago, he could be found testing the distillery’s original formulations in bars throughout southern Marin.

The first batch, released in 2013, was the result of 50 iterations. It began as a seven-year-old Canadian rye and was bottled at Bender’s Treasure Island facility for $30 per bottle. If you can find a bottle of batch No. 1 these days, it will cost you more than $200.

In those ten years, tastes and markets have evolved.

“When we first launched, everyone was trying to out-proof each other,” says Cohen. “Mine’s 96 proof, 106 proof, 110 proof.” Now we’re heading in the opposite direction.”

Back then, he discovered, most people drank whiskey by taking shots rather than sipping and savoring the spirit on the tip of their tongues.

“That was not the experience we wanted for our product,” says Cohen.

Batch No. 6 rye ($60) is Bender’s most recent rye, a 90-proof blend of five-year-old rye and five-year-old corn whiskey aged in high char barrels, making it rich and silky.

“We still use corn whiskey in our rye,” says Cohen. “Batch 6 was distilled on Treasure Island and aged in char 5 barrels, so the color is amazing.” I don’t want there to be any doubt that this product was distilled on Treasure Island.”

Bender’s also has a batch No. 2 of Old Corn, a 100% corn whiskey ($50) with less than 2,000 bottles, putting the “small” in small batch (which is a legally ambiguous term in the whiskey world). A single barrel is significant, but a small batch is open to interpretation). It has some older whiskey in the blend, despite its age of eight years.

“We had some 13-year-old corn whiskeys that had been aged in bourbon barrels.” “However, we re-aged them in our new Hoffmeister barrels (a well-known cooperage in Missouri) and were able to extract some interesting woody and maple notes,” Cohen says. “It’s like a corn whiskey Lagavulin.” It’s quite distinct. You can put it in a cocktail, but it will still come through.”

The newest batch entry for Bender’s came about as a result of purchasing rye in a competitive market. Bender’s had to purchase wheat whiskey in order to obtain the desired amount of rye. Its flagship batch No. 1 wheat whiskey ($45) is a three-year-old 100% wheat whiskey. While wheat whiskey doesn’t typically have as much character as corn or rye whiskey, by aging it three years — a year longer than the legally required minimum for “straight” whiskey — it gets the punch needed and offers some unique character even at 84 proof.

“It ended up tasting like an Irish whiskey,” says Cohen. “Even though the mash bill is completely different, it still has that smoother characteristic.” We are extremely proud of it.”

“The local market is critical to our success.” “In Marin, The Buckeye Roadhouse, Andronico’s, Ludwig’s Fine Wine and Spirits, and the Tiburon Lodge were among the first to welcome us,” Cohen says. “I’m especially looking forward to sharing our 10th anniversary expressions with the bars, restaurants, and stores in Marin and Sonoma.” has more information, where to buy bottles, and cocktail recipes.

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