Bryan Smith is the Master Distiller and partner in the Hard Truth Distillery in Nashville, Brown County, Indiana and connected with me on Linkedin. He had read one of my blogs on rye whiskey and wanted to know if I would like to taste one of their rye whiskeys. I told him I am always happy to taste new products, especially from new distillers. He sent me a bottle of their Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey. It is a straight rye whiskey that is a mixture of thirty barrels of, two and three year old whiskey. This rye whiskey is a 96% rye 4% malted barley mash bill. This information can be found on the distillery website. 

The label has more information about the bottle. It is batch 1, using their mash bill 1. It was dumped on 14 October 2021. It is 57.6 % alcohol by volume or 115.2 proof.  The bottle has an old, pre-Prohibition look in its design. It is a 750ml, flask-style bottle with embossing on the back. The embossing reads “Distilled with the finest grains and water by Indiana’s sweet mash pioneers”. Matt and I tasted this and decided that it should be the “Whiskey of the Month” for February. Here are our tasting notes.

Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey

Proof: 115.2

Age: Two Years old


  • Mike: Very Brandy-like. Rye grassiness with cherries, raspberries and peaches, a little ginger and nutmeg spice and sweet oak wood.
  • Matt: Rye grass with lots of chocolate, raspberries and cherries. Just the right amount of oak wood.


  • Mike: Rye grass, vanilla, peaches and raspberries with cinnamon and nutmeg spice and sweet oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the oak and rye take a step back and the peaches and spices move forward. Tasted with a pecan and a note of orange zest joins the fruit and the cinnamon becomes a red hot candy flavor.
  • Matt: Like a Valentine day candy with chocolate and raspberry with a little caramel and oak. The dried cranberry made the raspberry a little more tart and added a note of lemon. The pecan made the chocolate shift to a dark chocolate flavor with some plums and cardamom spice.


  • Mike: Long with sweet oak wood, lingering peach and raspberry fruit and some cinnamon spice. The dried cranberry made the finish shorter and sweeter with lots of vanilla and fruit and only a hint of oak. The pecan made the finish very long with oak and that red hot candy cinnamon.
  • Matt: Very complex with dark chocolate, nutmeg and leather with a lingering fruit. Matt stated that this rye was similar to the taste of the George Washington Rye. The dried cranberry enhanced the spice and the dark chocolate notes. The pecan brought out more oak and leather.

I would pair this fine young rye whiskey with a cigar that is rich in vanilla and chocolate notes, but not too much chocolate in the smoke. I would reach for a Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial. I think that this cigar has the flavors I am looking for without overpowering the rye whiskey.

According to the map found on their website, Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye can be found in Indiana and the surrounding states. I have not seen it in Louisville at Westport Whiskey & Wine but hopefully it will be there soon. If you find a bottle, pick it up. I am sure you will be glad you did.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller