Whiskey Review: Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey

, | March 19, 2023

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.

Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey “Mash Bill 1” comes from Midwest producers Hard Truth Distilling and acts as the anchor of their “Sweet Mash Rye” whiskeys. Located on a giant property that hosts a variety of activities (check out their ATV tours), Hard Truth Distilling has massively scaled from their original home in a room above a pizza shop to a 325 acre lot in only seven years.

Not to mention the fact that they are planning to continue expanding with state-of-the-art equipment and a larger rack house for storing barrels

As for their whiskey production methods, Hard Truth Distilling puts great emphasis on the “Sweet Mash” technique. This is a type of whiskey making that begins each new batch with fresh mash rather than partially recycling a previous run’s mash into each new run, which is the widely used “sour mashing” method that originates with early whiskey making tradition in order to ensure the fermentation period is not negatively affected by outside bacteria.

While the difference between “sweet mash” and “sour mash” certainly impacts the whiskey making process, they aren’t differences which will necessarily affect the outcome of flavor. Making the decision to so heavily promote this aspect of the whiskey making process feels a bit like the “lucky strikes scene” from Mad Men, in which Don Draper convinces the businessmen from Lucky Strike to advertise their cigarettes as: “Lucky Strikes: toasted” even though every other cigarette company toasts their tobacco too.

This is not to say that Hard Truth Distilling makes a whiskey just like all the other whiskey companies (or to say that every company uses the sweet mash method), but only that, in my opinion, the sweet mash method is not something you should necessarily look for when choosing your next whiskey.

What does set this whiskey apart? First of all, it’s barrel strength, meaning the whiskey is bottled at the same ABV that it is taken out of the barrel at (rather than being proofed down after the aging process like most whiskeys). In this case that makes it a nice and toasty 58.3% alcohol by volume.

Secondly, the mash bill is 94% rye. Take into account that to be considered a rye whiskey a producer only has to use 51% or more rye grain and can then blend in any other grains as they see fit. With rye being the spiciest grain, most whiskey producers will mix in a heavy dose of corn (sweet flavor) or wheat (neutral flavor) in order to balance out the spiciness.

Hard Truth Distilling has instead opted to go all in on the heat with the combination of barrel strength ABV and almost 100% rye mash bill to give us a rye that’s as peppery and spicy as possible, which I think is the real selling point of this particular whiskey.

Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey review

We review Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey, made via a “sweet mash” technique and bottled at cask strength. (image via Hard Truth Distilling)

Tasting Notes: Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey

Vital Stats: Mash Bill: 94% Rye 6% malted barley. 58.3% ABV. Aged in new American oak casks.

Appearance: Tan-Gold.

Nose: Pepper and Spice. There is also a bit of sweetness and some alcohol burn.

Palate: Not as hot as you would expect at first, but there is a fair bit of kick to the after taste. The pepper and spice from the nose are definitely still present in the palate, with just a bit of oaky sweetness as well that sticks around in your mouth. The overall texture is dry and nicely compliments the spicy flavors.

Whiskey Review: Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey


A really solid showing from Hard Truth Distilling. Though I’m not someone that seeks out barrel strength whiskeys I find this one to be really palatable, and the overall spice and heat are just what you want in any good rye.

User Review
3.67 (3 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.