Hard Truth to Unveil Trio of Sweet Mash Bourbons


February 2, 2024

Hard Truth Sweet Mash bottles on barrel

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.

These represent the first Hard Truth bourbon products to hit the market. While its bourbon was aging, Hard Truth released a line of craft spirits, including Cinnamon Vodka, Toasted Coconut Rum, and Maple Bourbon Cream. Building on those spirits, 2021 saw the release of Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye, the first grain-to-glass whiskey fully produced by Hard Truth.

Hard Truth master distiller and co-founder Bryan Smith called the sweet mash release “special,” adding, “We’ve always been a bourbon company, we’ve just been waiting for the right moment to introduce ours to the world.”

The distillery’s 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 late 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,” Smith said. “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.”

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 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.

“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,” Smith said. “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.

For more information, visit https://hardtruth.com/.