Review: Tarnished Truth High Rye Bourbon 3 Years Old

Review: Tarnished Truth High Rye Bourbon 3 Years Old

Here’s a curious fact: Tarnished Truth Distillery is the first and only distillery based within a hotel, the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Tarnished Truth produces vodka, gin, moonshine, and this, a high rye bourbon that’s aged for 3 years. The bourbon for now is sourced from MGP — though the label is awfully cagey on this front — and is made from MGP’s high-rye mash of 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley; bottles include a batch code and are individually numbered, for what that’s worth.

If a single bottle isn’t enough for you, $25,000 will get you into the Presidential Bourbon Barrel Club, which includes a barrel made from your own custom mash, 300 bottles of bourbon, an annual tasting while it ages for up to 8 years, and a night’s stay at the Cavalier each year when you visit. While we can’t comment on the value of that experience, we can delve into this 3 year old expression. Here we go!

On the nose, a modest barrel char aroma kicks things off, followed by a curious savory note that is reminiscent of roast beef and a touch of jalapeno. Dill notes follow soon after. The palate is quite soft and approachable, with red fruits followed by chewy grains, Bit-O-Honey, and buttered popcorn. On the finish, it’s toasty wood notes that are the most prominent, oddly making the conclusion the most youth-heavy part of the experience. It’s worthwhile on the whole, though pricey for a whiskey of this age.

86 proof. Reviewed: Batch #11.

B+ / $64 /

Tarnished Truth High Rye Bourbon 3 Years Old




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. ApplejackTAC on October 3, 2019 at 9:24 am

    $64 for a low proof (86), minimally aged (3 years) high rye MGP sourced bourbon may go down as the worst bourbon value proposition ever (and that’s saying something given the bourbon market in the last 5 years). A few years ago, you could get the 99 proof, 7 year aged Smooth Ambler Old Scout with the same MGP mashbill for around $35 (it’s now discontinued).

  2. ApplejackTAC on October 3, 2019 at 9:25 am

    Even today there are a variety of Smooth Ambler Old Scout Single Barrel selections available (most now at 13 years, around 100 proof) coming in at this mid $60s price point. Who buys this stuff?

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