Reviews of UNBENDT Barrel Proof Bourbon and Rye


If you head down to Lewisville, Texas, you’ll find BENDT Distilling. I first explored this distillery’s Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon and Rye. The Bottled-in-Bond Rye was so great that it earned my Best American Rye of 2023 Award. I’ve since reviewed a handful of offerings. However, you can read that original review and the distillery’s background here.


BENDT Distilling recently sent me the barrel-proof versions of these whiskeys in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews. Part of me is excited because I wonder if these versions will eclipse the bonded. I'm nervous because I’ve sometimes run into barrel-proof versions that don’t hold up to their proofed-down siblings.


Before I #DrinkCurious, I must thank the folks at BENDT Distilling for this opportunity.


UNBENDT Barrel Proof Bourbon


  • Mashbill: Distilled from a mash of County Yellow Dent corn, Texas Elbon rye, and 2-row malted barley
  • Cooperage: New American Oak, #3 Char
  • Age: 6 years, 6 months
  • ABV: 71% (142°)
  • Price: Distillery-only, $85.00 for a 750ml


Appearance: Poured neat into my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon had a dark burnt umber appearance. It created a microthin rim that rained thin, lightning-fast tears.


Nose: Realizing the proof, I allowed this Bourbon to rest in my glass before sniffing. After all, there was no need to get a blast of ethanol.


I smelled cocoa, oak, brown sugar, and cherries. When the air hit the inside of my mouth, there were notes of milk chocolate, cherries, and peanut butter.


Palate: UNBENDT Bourbon possessed a velvety texture. That surprised me because I half-expected nothing but fire on my lips and tongue at this proof. Don’t get me wrong, it was hot, but it allowed me to discern more. I noted that the more I sipped, the less impact the alcohol had in my mouth.


The front of my palate found berries, chocolate, and corn. The middle had tobacco, mocha, and rye spice. Flavors of vanilla, cinnamon Red Hots, and barrel char.


Finish: The duration was so long that I had to time it. It didn’t build; it parked on my tongue and throat. Caramel, barrel char, tobacco, cinnamon Red Hots, vanilla, and berries seemed determined not to give up the ship. Finally, at 4 minutes and 48 seconds, it lost its grip.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This is a Haz-Mat Bourbon bottled at 140°+. Haz-Mat (hazardous materials) refers to how this whiskey can be transported. You cannot ship this via air. Also, a Haz-Mat whiskey is typically not someone’s daily drinker.


Yeah, it was “hot,” but once you got past the palate shock, it was fun to sip. I loved how dry the barrel char made my mouth. At the same time, I was enchanted by its sweet and fruity aspects. Then there was that finish. The length alone is worth the price of admission.


The Bottled-in-Bond version was delightful. Although it shared some similarities with this barrel-proof incarnation, it had its own character.


You can’t order this one. You can’t buy it at a store. The only place to get a Bottle is from the distillery, and if Haz-Mat is your jam, you don’t want to pass this one up. Cheers!    



UNBENDT Barrel Proof Rye


After the Bourbon, I needed to clean and rest my palate.


  • Mashbill: Distilled from a mash of Elbon rye, Triticale hybrid grain, Marris Otter malted barley, and Naked Streaker oats.
  • Cooperage: New American Oak, #3 Char.
  • Age: 6 years, 7 months
  • ABV: 68% (136°)
  • Price: Distillery-only, $85.00 for a 750ml


Appearance: Whereas the Bourbon was so dark I couldn’t see through it, the Rye offered more clarity with a reddish hue. A medium rim formed; it discharged thin, very slow droplets.


Nose: While not Haz-Mat, I allowed this Rye to rest about as long as the Bourbon. Part of it is respect; the other is I wanted to ensure my palate was clean and refreshed.


Its aroma included fruity plums, chocolate, caramel, oats, and nutmeg. Drawing the air through my lips, it invited a blast of vanilla.


Palate: The Rye’s mouthfeel was thin and oily. That was far different from the Bottled-in-Bond version. An almost chewy rye bread was at the front, along with mint and cinnamon. Midway, I tasted cherries, raspberries, and caramel. The back included a blend of charred oak, clove, and black peppercorns.


Finish: The long finish (yet not even in the same realm as the Bourbon) tasted of cherries, raspberries, cinnamon, clove, rye bread, and mint.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The barrel-proof Rye was delicious. It was warm but not hot. It did not have the same magical quality the Bottled-in-Bond release owned. That’s not to suggest this wasn’t a tasty pour; the bonded was outstanding and would have been challenging for many American Ryes to match it, let alone surpass it. I still see a ton of bang for the buck. It, too, takes my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you to do so responsibly.