Hard Truth Mellenkamp Sweet Mash Rye

Hard Truth Mellencamp Sweet Mash Rye (Photo by the brand)

Hoosier Heaven

In a match made in Hoosier heaven, Brown County, Ind.-based Hard Truth Distilling Co. and Mellencamp Whiskey Co. have partnered to create a rye that really rocks. (Yes, it’s THAT Mellencamp, or Johnny Cougar as he’s still affectionately known around these parts).

Harvest Sweet Mash Rye, the first of a four-part limited collector series, is set to officially release with a kick-off event at the 325-acre Hard Truth campus on Sept. 9, with subsequent releases scheduled for the spring and following fall. The collaboration teams Hard Truth Master Distiller Bryan Smith with Hud Mellencamp (John’s son) and Levi Collison from the Mellencamp Whiskey team (all having grown up near each other in the small-town, south-central Indiana region). John graces each release with his own new original artwork.

Although the mash bill hasn’t yet been revealed, my sources say the Harvest Rye is made exclusively with grains grown by Indiana farm partners. It’s a nice tie-in to Mellencamp’s FarmAid 2023, which supports and raises awareness around family-owned farms across the country through a day dedicated to great food and music. Hard Truth also plays a role in the event through its Grounded in Truth platform, benefiting the concert and other agriculturally oriented not-for-profit foundations.

Local Farmers

Supporting local farmers is critical to Hard Truth’s ideology. “By supporting and collaborating closely with our local farmers, we are able to offer the highest quality and hyper-regional flavor profile in our whiskeys,” Smith mentions.

Tasting Notes

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a sample to preview, and it’s a real showstopper. Thanks to the art, the bottle makes a great first impression, immediately earning a place of pride on my shelf as a conversation starter. The initial pour reveals an inviting nose of gingerbread, rye, and smoke that flows naturally into baking spice reinforcements of ginger, clove, and cinnamon flavors with a peppery edge upon first sip.

There’s definitely a sting, but for a higher proof (106) product, the juice drinks surprisingly smooth, much like Hard Truth’s flagship barrel-proof sweet mash rye. A splash of water brings forward sweeter notes of honey, vanilla, and caramel corn. Excellent for sipping straight, with a single ice cube, or in a Manhattan. I look forward to drinking this one into the fall with friends around a bonfire or with a football game on TV in the background.

If you can get your hands on a bottle of this stuff across Hard Truth’s 20-state distribution network, definitely check it out.