Indiana-based rye whiskey producer Hard Truth Distillery has launched two new rye releases, following its limited series expressions earlier this year. The distillery’s focus has been highly specialized in sweet mash rye, featuring Indiana-sourced grains.
High Road Sweet Mash Rye is a lower proof expression of their core sweet mash whiskey, and it also features the addition of corn in the mashbill. The whiskey is designed to reach a wider audience with both a lower proof and lower price point, given the positive feedback they received on the original.
Harvest Sweet Mash Rye is produced and released in collaboration with the new Mellencamp Whiskey Company. And yes, if “Indiana” and “Mellencamp” immediately calls to mind John Mellencamp, the trail gets you very close since this is son Hud Mellencamp’s new project with another long-time Indiana native Levi Collison. (Harvest Rye bottles are also adorned with John Mellencamp’s artwork.) The inspiration for this release includes doubling down on supporting and promoting the heartland of Indiana which, alongside the Mellencamps’ well known affiliation, also includes Collison’s generational connection to grains (via his grandfather’s years in grain transport and living on a grain farm). Harvest is the first release in a series of four whiskeys, with each bottle featuring unique artwork by John Mellencamp and a previously-unreleased mashbill. A portion of the proceeds go towards Grounded in Truth, Hard Truth’s cause platform launched this year in support of Indiana’s sustainable farming initiatives and local farming families.
There’s a lot going on outside the bottle; time to crack these open.
Hard Truth High Road Sweet Mash Rye – The disclosed mash bill for High Road is 55% rye, 36% corn, 9% malted barley. Bottled at a lower proof than Harvest Rye, the nose is expectedly more gentle, taking some effort to detect dried unsweetened figs along with a toasted marshmallow sweetness. The palate, however, starts out unpredictably more bold and fruit forward than the Harvest Rye, with preserved prunes and Port taking the lead over mint-forward spice. The finish is also noticeably more sweet, presenting more Sprite-juicy sweetness with notes of frosted flakes, lingering on straight vanilla extract. A little ice cube in this case turns this into a sessionable cocktail on its own (for what that’s worth.) 93 proof. B+ / $40
Hard Truth Harvest Sweet Mash Rye – This higher proof option leads with a nose of creamy caramel turtle candy, showing butter-based sweetness, milk chocolate, and soft walnuts. A bite of burnt marshmallows and lightness of lemon-lime soda appears occasionally. On the palate is a rushed parade of peppercorn-forward rye spice, some more of charred marshmallow, chewy banana bread, and wheat germ. The finish rides into a familiar, oaky bitterness with soft cereal featured. A punchy and spice-dominant pour with some pleasant heat for those that like to brace themselves. A little ice cube actually seems to heighten the oak and spice. 106 proof. B+ / $70