Review: Hard Truth Master’s Reserve Sweet Mash Rye – RW-3, RW-4, and RW-6

Review: Hard Truth Master’s Reserve Sweet Mash Rye – RW-3, RW-4, and RW-6

Indiana-based distillery Hard Truth is looking to instill a new tradition around the holidays with annual limited (extremely limited) releases of flavored specially roasted malted rye whiskeys. In 2022 they kick started this collection with first three of the series – Chocolate Malt, Caramel Malt, and Malted Rye – as further described below:

Launched on Black Friday, the new collection includes a Chocolate Malt (RW-3), Caramel Malt (RW-4) and Malted Rye (RW-6). Each is mashed, distilled, aged, and bottled by the distillers at Hard Truth in Brown County Indiana.

Each unique and innovative whiskey mash bill uses specialty roasted malts to impart the flavors of each expression. Chocolate malt is malted barley roasted to a very dark color which brings flavors of espresso and chocolate (like in a porter or stout beer). Caramel is roasted half as long and is more like caramel corn, sticky toffee in its flavor contributions. Malted Rye is a 100% rye whiskey which utilizes a portion of the mash bill in rye grain and a portion of rye grain that has been malted or sprouted and then kiln dried.

Let’s take a tour.

Hard Truth Master’s Reserve Sweet Mash Rye RW-3 Chocolate Malt Batch 001 – The nose is a dusty woodsy roasted spruce that definitely points to a cocoa powder and malt focused whiskey. It’s a heady introduction to what follows on the palate, which is a bolder version of the nose with bitter oak touches to minty spruce/pine spiciness atop the unmistakable dry dark chocolate base. There is an unexpected velvety mouthfeel to an otherwise bitter profile, unveiling the subtle sweetness of charred marshmallows. Makes me think this is what a charred Whopper or Mallomar might taste like. This is quite an engaging twist, especially on the cold winter nights huddled with good company by a fire. 109.6 proof. A-

Hard Truth Master’s Reserve Sweet Mash Rye RW-4 Caramel Malt Batch 001 – The nose on the caramel malt is much more familiar and screams bourbon with its effervescent cherry cola aroma and the buttery sweet undertone of the caramel. The palate again leans heavily towards the sweeter high-rye bourbons with cinnamon, pepper, and spearmint spicing up the cola-forward caramel. The maltiness is well hidden on this expression and not as prominent in the nose nor the palate as compared to the RW-3 Chocolate Malt. The finish rides longer on the bitter notes of oak with a touch of rye spice. This is a brighter and livelier pour than the Chocolate Malt and equally enjoyable, although the caramel touch really just moves this rye into bourbon territory. Not that it’s a bad move at all. 117.4 proof. A-

Hard Truth Master’s Reserve Sweet Mash Rye RW-6 Malted Rye Batch 001 – The nose is noticeably softer than the Chocolate and Caramel Malt, with more distinct fruit notes akin to figs and the richness of a sweet roasted macadamia or hazelnut. The palate is, thankfully, just as elegant, with more muted levels on the spice and oakiness that brings out some notes of pitted fruits and butter-rich muffins. The finish is soft but long, with less oak and more roasted fruit notes with the right pinch of spice. (Conspicuous in its absence is a stronger hint of malt… becoming rather mute once poured.) 112.2 proof. A-

All in all, a very commendable launch, and a Hard Truth tradition that may be worth looking forward to year on year.


Hard Truth Master's Reserve Sweet Mash Rye RW-3 Chocolate Malt Batch 001




Monica is an incurable dilettante, who is relentlessly curious about books, brews (the coffee kind) and bourbons.

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