Whiskey Review: Tarnished Truth High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Tarnished Truth Distilling Company. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

Distiller Justin Boyle and his team produce their Tarnished Truth Distilling Company spirits in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They bottle one of almost everything, as is common with small batch distilleries. Their operation is in the historic Cavalier Hotel: fabled playground of dignitaries and dilettantes for decades. You can still book a room and join their ranks, in fact. They’re the only American distillery housed in a working hotel.

Tarnished Truth High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a sourced spirit, finished and bottled by the company. Boyle samples barrels; assessing mouthfeel, aroma, taste, and finish. He’s looking for flavors of honey, clove, cinnamon, plum, and raisin. Typically, a blend will be of four to six barrels. “All the flavor compounds develop independently. We might find a barrel with high oak that we need to marry with a barrel that has more of the fruit notes.”

With a mash bill of 36% rye, this spirit is significantly higher in rye than most bourbons. Aging for three years in No. 4 char barrels brings it back to more familiar bourbon treatment. Distiller Boyle hints that the brand will diverge again to release a port cask finished high rye whiskey.

Tarnished Truth High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Tarnished Truth High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey (image via Tarnished Truth Distilling)

Tasting Notes: Tarnished Truth High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Vital Stats: 86 proof (43% ABV); finished and bottled in Virginia Beach, VA; mash bill: 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malted barley; aged in No. 4 char American Oak for three years; around $64 for 750 mL; distributed in Virginia and Washington, DC. 

Appearance: Looks thin in the glass; pale copper, sheeting and very slowly forming fat tears.

Read More Whiskey News
Book Review: Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon?

Nose: Tarnished Truth High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey smells of hay, sandalwood and orange peel, all over a backdrop of hard Mediterranean herbs. 

Palate: The palate is friendly, the heat mellow and quickly dissipating. This whiskey is slightly saline on the attack, with flavors of allspice, black pepper and, yes, plum. Sarsaparilla and sweet custard linger on the mid palate, with a second hit of warm spices on the back palate. 

The Takeaway


It’s what you would hope from the title: the dulcet tones of a bourbon with the spice of a rye. Smooth enough to enjoy on its own, and steely enough to stand up to other bold flavors in a cocktail.

User Rating ( votes)


Subscribe to our newsletter