For its 2023 Spirits Awards, Men’s Journal magazine recently ranked an Indiana craft distillery among its top picks.
Spirits writer Jonah Flicker listed his top 16 rye whiskeys for the magazine, and Indiana’s Hard Truth Distilling made the cut. The Hard Truth Sweet Mash Rye was deemed the best craft rye whiskey.
“Hard Truth makes fantastic rye whiskey,” Flicker wrote in December, “and its Sweet Mash Rye expression exemplifies what they’re up to. ‘Sweet mash’ means that each distillation begins fresh, as opposed to the sour mash process used by most distilleries where some of the mash from the previous distillation is left in the still.”
The Indiana Rye Whiskey designation took effect in 2021 and follows the federal requirements for rye whiskey — a minimum of 51 percent rye in the grain bill, distilled at no greater than 160 proof, placed in a barrel at no more than 125 proof — then adds the Indiana-specific requirements that it be mashed, fermented, distilled and then rested at least two years in the state of Indiana.
Hard Truth Distilling in Nashville, Ind., offers a great opportunity to start sampling Indiana rye. While folks are likely more familiar with Kentucky bourbon, they’ll be hearing more and more about Indiana spirits. The state now has more than 40 distilleries, from large to small. Hard Truth, as it notes on its website, began distilling in 2015 in the small upper rooms of Big Woods Pizza Co. in downtown Nashville, Indiana. The tiny craft distillery quickly grew, and by 2017, construction had begun on a new facility set on a rolling, wooded, 325-acre property about a mile away from Hard Truth’s original home.
That property became the Hard Truth campus, and the Hard Truth Tours & Tastings Center opened its doors to guests at the end of 2017. The following summer, the Restaurant at Hard Truth opened. And, in the fall of 2018, Hard Truth Distilling Co. made the move to its brand new, state-of-the-art, sweet mash distillery, where it’s been producing Hard Truth spirits – including Indiana rye – ever since.
“Rye whiskey is synonymous with the great state of Indiana,” said Hard Truth partner Jim Dunbar. “We are proud to be part of that heritage and tradition.”
In fact, Hard Truth Distilling Co.’s first batch of Sweet Mash Rye Whiskey was named among bourbon curator and taster Fred Minnick’s Top 100 American Whiskeys of 2021 during his annual ranking event.
“Distillers in Indiana have historically produced some of the highest quality rye whiskeys in the world,” said Bryan Smith, master distiller/partner at Hard Truth. “We’re on the forefront of a new era of whiskey-making as sweet mash pioneers here in the state of Indiana, and it is truly an honor to be included on a list with such legendary distillers, especially with our first batch. Crafting the highest quality sweet mash rye and bourbon whiskey in the state of Indiana is at the core of our efforts here at Hard Truth Distilling Co., and our passion for hard work in making world class whiskey really seems to resonate with people. We can’t wait for you to taste the whiskeys yet to come.”
Hard Truth Distillery offers tours, tasting, mixology classes and more, as well as a restaurant and a rental cabin. Find out more here.
You can find out more about other Indiana distilleries, many of which offer tours, tastings and special events, by checking out Indiana Grown’s Distillery Trail, which features 18 of its member distilleries.
Originally published in October 2022.