The Hard Truth Distillery is in Nashville, Indiana. In 2009, Big Woods Brewing Company was founded by Ed, Jeff, and Tim as a brew pub in Nashville, Indiana. They went on to found the Hard Truth Distillery in 2015. They hired Bryan Smith as their distiller and placed quality over quantity in their products.
I was invited by Bryan Smith to come up for a visit about a year ago. He had sent me a bottle of their sweet mash rye for review and asked me to come up for a visit. It took about a year, but we finally made that visit. Rosemary and I, along with our good friends John and Carlene Slucher, made the trip on a beautiful Saturday in April. We were met at the visitor’s center by Bryan and Chris Moore, the Barrel Manager for the distillery. After the greetings and other pleasantries, we began the tour. Bryan showed us the wall of bottles for sale in the gift shop and explained the history of each product. Their first product was a coconut rum, an unaged product that helped pay the bills while the whiskey was aging. A Vodka and other products quickly followed. Their original plans did not include sourcing whiskey, but COVID 19 changed that. They sourced some rye whiskey and released it as four year old Indiana Rye. They also sourced some fourteen year old Bourbon from Tennessee. They did this because the original partners were heavily invested in the restaurant business and needed a source of income during lock down.
They opened the distillery in 2015. They started making sweet mash rye as a product because they had visited Wilderness Trail distillery and talked with the owners there. They liked it so much that they had had some barrels contract-distilled at Wilderness Trail using their mash bill and yeast while the distillery was being built. They thought that would give them an idea of what their whiskey would taste like when they got up and running. It proved to be a bit in vain because even though they built a distillery using the same size column and doubler as Wilderness Trail was using at that time, the flavor profile was quite different. Every distillery is unique and makes unique whiskeys. Subtle changes in design, different water, and even different microbes in the air, make for different whiskeys. It is a very beautiful distillery and we did all of the normal things such as tasting the mash and the new make whiskey.
We next went to their board room in the distillery and tasted whiskey. We tasted seven of their products in all. They were all very good. I particularly liked the wheat recipe Bourbon they have aging. It had a very nice caramel and fruit flavor that I like in a wheated Bourbon. We also tried three of their rye whiskeys that are finished in secondary barrels. Two of them were finished in fortified wine barrels and one of the three was finished in barrels that had been cold smoked with hickory and apple woods. It was an excellent tasting led by Chris Moore, their Barrel Manager.
We followed the tasting with an excellent lunch in the restaurant. The restaurant is a vital part of the business. It includes event space for private parties and a huge outdoor venue that includes live music during the summer months. The food was excellent. I had fish and chips while Rosemary had an excellent chicken sandwich. John had the meatloaf and Carlene had the chili. We started the meal with the not-to-be-missed pulled pork nachos and the pretzel and beer cheese.
After lunch, we took the ATV tour. This is a ride in an ATV through the woods with stops for drinks at different places along the way. It was a wild and fun tour and our driver, Ben Gold, was an entertaining host. We started with a drink of their coconut rum at the beginning of the tour. The first drink was Hard Truth’s first distilled product. We then headed out into the woods and stopped for an old fashioned cocktail.
The next stop was their hidden “speakeasy bar” in the woods where we drank a gin gimlet made with their gin and lime juice. We then headed out again and stopped at some swings in the wood where we tasted one of their beers. The last stop was near the distillery where we had a photo-op at a vintage wagon and tasted their cinnamon vodka. The tour was fun and who does not like four wheeling through the woods at high speed, splashing through muddy spots on the road and stopping for drinks?
Hard Truth Distillery is an excellent place to visit. They are making great whiskeys and have a very good tour. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Nashville, Indiana.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller