Editor’s Note: This whisky 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.
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.
Tasting Notes: Hard Truth Distilling Malted Rye Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey
Vital Stats: 56.1% ABV. Mash bill: 54% Rye, 46% Malted Rye. Aged in American Oak barrels. Price range: $80-90.
Appearance: Dark Amber.
Nose: Sweet caramel is most prominent on the nose. Almost a syrupy sweet kick to it. Not as much spice or pepper as on the other Sweet Mash rye variations from this limited drop.
Palate: It is mildly sweet on the tongue with not much bite or kick to it for a Rye, which is a bit surprising given the mash bill. Has a bit of a maple syrup after taste, though this comes through much more on the nose than the palate.