Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon Review

Hard Truth Distilling just released their first in-house distilled bourbons! In this review we'll look into their Sweet Mash Bourbon, made with a unique process and Indiana-grown grains. It boasts sweet notes of brown sugar, caramel, butterscotch and dark fruit, with rye spices and a lingering warmth. Interested? Read our full review to learn more!
Hard Truth
Sweet Mash Bourbon
Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Small Batch – Non-Chill Filtered
90 Proof
MSRP: $44.99 / 750ml

Please enjoy our Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon review!

Amongst whiskey drinkers, Hard Truth Distilling is probably best known for their Sweet Mash Ryes. It seems as if the Sweet Mash Ryes have been around for quite a while. However, it turns out that Hard Truth only first released their ryes in 2021. At that time, the Sweet Mash Ryes represented Hard Truth’s first house distilled whiskeys to reach the market. Nevertheless, it turns out that bourbon was actually the first type of brown spirit barreled by Hard Truth, in 2018. Although they have previously released a few sourced straight & finished bourbons under the Schoonover and Sipes’ labels, 2024 marks the first year that the distillery will release bourbons distilled and aged in house!

Hard Truth Distilling Releases Three Sweet Mash Bourbons

Now that Hard Truth Distilling’s “grain to glass” bourbon’s are ready for thirsty fans to enjoy, they didn’t release just one bourbon; they released three! They are the Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon, Wheated Bourbon, and Four Grain Bourbon. The latter two are Bottled In Bond. This review will focus on the Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon.

What Is A Sweet Mash?

Many people have heard of a “sour mash”. In fact, you’ll see it written on the label of some very popular whiskeys, such as Jack Daniel’s Old No 7. But, what does “sour mash” mean? Well, during distillation, the fermented mash, also known as “distiller’s beer”, passes through the still. After the alcohol is extracted, the spent grains and remnant liquids drain from the bottom. This material is then called backset or stillage. In a “sour mash”, the distiller adds the stillage to a new fresh mash and/or (less commonly) to the fermenters. Proponents of the sour mash process say it maintains consistency between batches. In addition, they say that it better controls the pH since the backset makes the mash more acidic, and that helps to control bacterial growth.

In contrast, with a “sweet mash” the distiller starts fresh every time. So, why would Hard Truth Distilling do this? In their own words: “By using sweet mash, we’re able to highlight the complexity and pleasant flavors from our grains and reach the peak flavor in our new, charred American oak barrels.”

Introducing Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon

Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon uses a mash bill of 73% corn, 19% rye & 8% malted barley. All of the corn, and a majority of the rye used at Hard Truth is grown in Indiana. Hard Truth then distills the fermented mash on their Vendome column still. Finally, the new make is barreled and then aged in Independent Stave Company custom Cooper Select barrels with staves seasoned for 18-24 months. No age statement is provided, so we can assume that the Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon has aged for at least 4 years. Hard Truth blends this bourbon in small batches, consisting of 30 barrels or fewer.

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Tasting Notes – Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon Review

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Fairly sweet with brown sugar, dark cherries & plums; hint of orange citrus; rye spices; light cedar; sweet light caramel & vanilla; alcohol vapor appropriate for the proof
👉🏻Taste: Tan caramel, butterscotch, light dry oak
👉🏻Finish: Growing white pepper spice; dry oak; a hint of dark cherries return; lingering mild rye spices; quite long; pleasant deep warmth

The nose is fairly sweet, with brown sugar and dark stone fruits, like black cherries and dark plums. There’s a hint of orange citrus, as well. Rye spices are noticeable, mainly cloves. The dark cherries becomes dominant as time goes on. A bit of light dry cedar, subtle vanilla and tan caramel round out the bouquet, with just the right amount of alcohol.

The taste brings light caramel, butterscotch and light dry oak, with a building white pepper spice and dry oak in the finish, with neither being overpowering. Mild rye spices continue, as well, and subdued dark cherries return. At the end, there is a dryness with lingering spice on my tongue, and a pleasant, deep warmth.

Bottle & Glencairn - Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon Review
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Conclusion – Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon Review

Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon is an enjoyable pour. At 90 proof, the flavors and mouthfeel are a bit lighter than those in Hard Truth’s 100 proof Wheated Bourbon, but they are far from thin. This bourbon would well suit those looking for a bit of a lower proof pour, that still has plenty of flavor. If that sounds like you, then give Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon a try!

Have you tried Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon? What did you think? Cheers!🥃

We hope you have enjoyed our Hard Truth Sweet Mash Bourbon review! Next, learn more about the wheated bourbon mentioned in this review in our Hard Truth Sweet Mash Wheated Bourbon Review!

The bottle for my review was graciously provided by Hard Truth Distilling.

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