Whiskey Review: Hard Truth Distilling Chocolate Malt Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

If you’re not from the Midwest, you may not have heard of the institution that is Hard Truth Distilling, but you probably will soon. Located in Nashville, Indiana, the distillery advertises itself as “Indiana’s largest destination craft distillery” and has even announced plans to expand its facilities, promising 24/7 production, a new rack house, and new distillation equipment to keep up with ever-increasing demand.

Though they started from humble beginnings back in 2015 above a pizza shop, they continue to scale their business in new and exciting ways. Hosting a variety of events – 80s prom night, a trail running festival, Mardi Gras, and mixology classes. Also worth a mention are cabins on their property that can be rented for a weekend, and the full-service restaurant on site. It’s safe to say that Hard Truth Distillery has lofty goals for itself when it comes to the future of their brand.

With that being said, the brand is still connected to their small batch roots and recently released a series of “Sweet Mash Ryes” featuring three different variations on the theme, at barrel strength no less! Each batch no larger than ten barrels in size, which is a very limited release. For those newer to whiskey, “Sweet Mash” is when each new batch of whiskey begins with a freshly made mash, rather than reusing a portion of the spent mash from the previous production cycle, which would be considered a “Sour Mash.”

The benefit of using “Sour Mash” is that it helps to control the PH balance during the fermentation process to ensure that unwanted bacteria doesn’t enter during this critical part of the process and negatively affect the flavor. While this method is still used today by many distilleries, modern advances allow distillers to buy enzymes that can be added during fermentation in order to achieve the same results.

Ultimately, this allows the distiller to not be married to the flavor profile of a previous batch because there is no recycling of flavors from one batch to the next. This can give the distiller a little bit more leeway with creativity and variance from batch to batch. It is especially helpful when using different mash bills because it allows the separate grain recipes to really come through, rather than getting muddled with a different recipe’s flavors.

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what Hard Truth Distilling does with these three, small batch variations.

Hard Truth Distilling Chocolate Malt Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey review

We review Hard Truth Distilling Chocolate Malt Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey, made in a “sweet mash” style. (image via Ryan O’Doherty/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Hard Truth Distilling Chocolate Malt Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey

Vital Stats: 54.8% ABV. Mash bill: 51% Rye, 38% Corn, 11% Chocolate Malt. Aged in American Oak barrels. Price range: $80-90.

Appearance: Amber.

Nose: A buttery creamy aroma that has hints of spicy rye. Certainly, some coffee and chocolate, but they are a bit muted. Just a bit of fruit that blends into the overall sweetness.

Palate: The coffee flavor pop much more on the palate than on the nose. You also have that familiar spiciness of a rye but given that the mash bill features corn so heavily it’s no surprise that the overall flavor is on the sweeter side for this type of whiskey. Not that it goes overboard, the sweetness is just enough to elevate the chocolatey/coffee flavor to the point that it’s noticeable, but not a novelty.

Whiskey Review: Hard Truth Distilling Chocolate Malt Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey


Hard Truth Distilling delivers an absolute treat with their small batch Chocolate Malt release. The interesting mix of sweet coco and coffee mixed with the kick of spicy rye gives us a whiskey that could be really interesting to mix in some winter time cocktails, or enjoyed neat to really appreciate the unique flavor. Given that the batch is so small I highly recommend buying them if they are still available near you, or looking forward to the next small batch release this time next year.

User Review
5 (2 votes)


Ryan O'Doherty

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I'm a former distiller at Jackson Hole Still Works in Wyoming. Fan of whiskey, golf, and especially whiskey and golf together.