Hard Truth Distilling Co. introduces its first Sweet Mash Bourbons

Hard Truth Distilling Co. is celebrating a milestone with the release of its first bourbons produced grain-to-glass. Known for award-winning craft spirits, sweet mash whiskey, and a 325-acre destination distillery, this moment marks a new chapter in the Hard Truth story.

Hard Truth Distilling Co
Image Credit: Hard Truth Distilling Co

“We’ve taken a lot of pride in the process of building our distillery and working with industry leaders such as Vendome Copper & Brass Works to create a truly state-of-the-art facility. This moment, though, is particularly special because the first batch of sweet mash whiskey from our still, many years ago, was bourbon,” said Hard Truth master distiller and co-founder, Bryan Smith. “We’ve always been a bourbon company, we’ve just been waiting for the right moment to introduce ours to the world.”

While its bourbon was aging, Hard Truth was doing more than just waiting for it to be ready. Over its first six years, a line of successful Hard Truth craft spirits was introduced including Cinnamon Vodka, Toasted Coconut Rum, and Maple Bourbon Cream. Building on the market demand from those spirits, 2021 saw the release of Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye, the first grain-to-glass whiskey fully produced by Hard Truth. This whiskey received numerous awards from the industry’s most respected critics, firmly establishing Hard Truth’s place in the American Whiskey community.

Today brings a new whiskey focus to Hard Truth. Their long-term lineup featuring Sweet Mash Rye and High Road Rye will now include three bourbons: Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon, Wheated Bourbon, and Four Grain Bourbon. The Sweet Mash Bourbon will be released at 90-proof, and both Wheated Bourbon and Four Grain Bourbon will be 100-proof and bottled-in-bond, a legal designation with a history dating to the 1800s as the gold standard for authenticity in the whiskey world.

“Bottled-in-bond is proof to the world that we’re making everything, grain-to-glass on our property. We are a group of serious, hard-working whiskey distillers making honest whiskey here in Brown County. That’s why we always intended for bottled-in-bond to be part of our story,” said Smith.

Hard Truth Distilling Co. Barrels

Staying true to its Hoosier roots, the distillery’s strong support for Indiana family farmers is present in each of its whiskeys. Most of the wheat and all of the corn used to produce bourbon at Hard Truth is grown by Doug Miller, a local, fifth-generation Indiana farmer located just 60 miles from the distillery. A majority of the rye is also from Indiana, grown in the southwestern part of the state by farmer Dr. Duane Kuhlenschmidt.

Local grains are distinct in each of the three bourbons, highlighted by Smith’s balancing of grain percentage, also known as a mash bill. With 73% corn, 19% rye, and 8% malted barley, Sweet Mash Bourbon presents a familiar, though distinct, bourbon profile. Wheated Bourbon, with 69% corn, 19% wheat, and 12% malted barley in the mash bill lends a soft, subtle sweetness to the mid-palate, and a long, warm finish. Four Grain Bourbon promises a balanced flavor with layered complexity from a single mash bill consisting of all four of the primary grains used in American Whiskey — corn, rye, wheat, and barley.

After the grain is delivered to Hard Truth, it doesn’t leave the distillery until after it has been bottled in a custom sweet mash bottle. Throughout that process, nothing is left to chance — from the high-quality grain, a custom-made Vendome column still, and barrels specifically produced for each unique mash bill.

Intent on creating distinct flavors through innovative barrel processes, Smith worked closely with Andrew Wiehebrink, Director of Spirits Research at Independent Stave Company to create custom toast and char profiles designed to complement the sweet mash coming off the still. These custom Cooper Select barrels are built using 18- to 24-month dried staves, aged far beyond the typical three to six months.

The resulting marriage of whiskey and charred oak celebrates Smith’s meticulous dedication to true small batches of 30 barrels or less for each release.

“What you will find in each bottle is the result of years of curiosity, research, and good old-fashioned instincts, as well as continuous work from the Hard Truth team. We were fortunate to spend hundreds of hours with industry legends including Dr. Pat Heist and Shane Baker of Wilderness Trail, Doug Miller, and Andrew Wiehebrink. However, we weren’t held back by tradition or precedent,” says Smith. “We are pioneering our own path. We like to say that Hard Truth Sweet Mash is the future of our tradition.”

Hard Truth Distilling Co.’s Sweet Mash Bourbons will be available for purchase at its distillery on Saturday, Feb. 24, and in select markets beginning Friday, March 1. Suggested retail pricing for 750mL Sweet Mash Bourbon (90 proof/45% ABV) is $44.99, 750mL Wheated Bourbon Bottled in Bond (100 proof/50% ABV) is $54.99 and 750mL Four Grain Bourbon Bottled in Bond (100 proof/50% ABV) is $59.99.

About Hard Truth Distilling Co.
Hard Truth Distilling Co. is an industry leader in the production of sweet mash whiskey. Headquartered in Nashville, Indiana, they produce more than 20 premium craft spirits, including the critically acclaimed Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey and top-selling Hard Truth Cinnamon Vodka, Hard Truth Maple Bourbon Cream, Hard Truth Toasted Coconut Rum, and Hard Truth Toasted Coconut Rum Cream.

Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey is a culmination of years of careful planning and precise crafting. The result is a complex, pleasant, high-quality rye that has garnered numerous honors including Hard Truth’s first batch of Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey which was named in the top 50 of Fred Minnick’s Top 100 American Whiskeys of 2021, and since then has taken home a gold medal in USA Spirits awards, double platinum medal in the Ascots, and scored a 93 by Whiskey Advocate. Most recently, a barrel-finished expression of Sweet Mash Rye was named the #34 best American Whiskey from over 900 whiskeys tasted in Fred Minnick’s Top 100 of 2023.

In addition to Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey, they recently released a new Sweet Mash Whiskey project in collaboration with Mellencamp Whiskey Company. The new partnership will include a four-part, limited collectors’ series of Hard Truth’s award-winning Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey with the second and third releases coming in the spring and fall. The first release, Harvest Rye, launched at the Hard Truth Distillery in September of last year.

Hard Truth’s spirits are distributed in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Washington, D.C., and The Bahamas.

Sweet Mash Bourbon

Mash Bill: 
73% Corn, 19% Rye, 8% Malted barley
90 proof
Primary Tasting Notes: 
Caramel, Toffee, Candied pecan, Stone fruit
Detailed Notes
: Tawny in appearance with notes of caramel, pecan, clove, fruit, and oak on the nose. At first sip, notes of toffee, caramel, cherry, and sweet cream are followed by warming coffee, vanilla, and oak that linger on the palate for an inviting finish.

Sweet Mash Wheated Bourbon Bottled In Bond
Mash Bill: 
69% Corn, 19% Wheat, 12% Malted barley
100 proof
Primary Tasting Notes: 
Nougat, Vanilla, S’mores, Dark chocolate
Detailed Notes
:  Tawny in appearance with notes of toasted marshmallow, dark chocolate, and custard on the nose. At first sip, notes of s’mores, toasted almonds, and candied fruit are followed by mocha and shortbread that build to a black pepper and maple finish.

Four Grain Bourbon Bottled In Bond
Mash Bill: 
78% Corn, 9% Rye, 9% Wheat, 4% Malted barley
100 proof
Primary Tasting Notes: 
Butterscotch, Apple, Tobacco, Black pepper
Detailed Notes
: Tawny in appearance with notes of butterscotch and vanilla on the nose. At first sip, notes of honey crisp apple and butterscotch lead into rich tobacco and oak, followed by honey and cracked black pepper on the finish.

Hard Truth Distilling Co. Bottles

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