Whiskey, parks, and recreation at Hard Truth Distilling

Whiskey, parks, and recreation at Hard Truth Distilling

Hard Truth is maximising the potential of its picturesque site in Brown County, Indiana with an adventurous program of visitor experiences

Distillery Focus | 27 Jul 2023 | By Maggie Kimberl

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Brown County, Indiana is a recreational area that draws more than a million visitors each year. The main attraction is Brown County State Park, where popular features include mountain biking, zip lining, and more. The town of Nashville, Indiana is also known for music, like its more famous Tennessee counterpart, as Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe built his music park nearby. Brown County is a destination for vacationers and features every type of activity you can imagine, from glass blowing to hiking to wineries and distilleries. It’s also home to Hard Truth Distilling, which caters to visitors to the area with some unique activities.


“My great grandfather used to come to make the trek from Evansville up to Brown County to paint landscapes back in the 20s,” says Hard Truth Distilling master distiller and partner Bryan Smith.

Overlooking the Hard Truth Distilling site. Credit: Hard Truth Distilling

The distillery is on a 325-acre site, with a tour centre out front that offers guided tastings for 21s and over. Visitors can grab a mat at the bar for a self-guided tasting, or book on for a distillery tour for a deeper dive into the spirits and a visit to rickhouse no. 2 for a taste straight from the barrel.


Then there’s the ‘Get Lost’ tour. It’s a unique offering that shows off not only the spirits made at the distillery, but also the wooded, remote areas of its expansive site, with guests driven in all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) by staff. “It's a four-stop tour that takes about an hour,” Smith explains. “You go out to a moonshiners’ cabin out in the woods and taste new make versus aged whisky. We've got a pre-Prohibition gin bar out in the middle of the woods where we talk about gin botanicals and shake a gin cocktail.”

Out on the 'Get Lost' ATV tour. Credit: Hard Truth Distilling

On the property is also a cabin that is rented through Vrbo and Airbnb or directly through the distillery. “It’s a little luxury cabin with a super cool little hangout area downstairs, a fireplace, a screened in porch in the back, and it's kind of nestled down in the woods,” Smith says. “So it's the only place on the property where you can spend the night and when you're there, you're the only people on the property except for our distillery employees who are running the stills, which are now running 24/7.”


The cabin has been open a little over a year now and has faced great demand thanks to the proximity to several major US cities. Being close to the I-65, the site is within easy reach of Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Louisville, and Indianapolis. Smith says this worked in in their favor during the pandemic: “When everybody was cancelling their big plans, a lot of people said, ‘Hey, let’s go get a cabin and go hang out in Brown County with the trees.’”

Enjoying a drink outside. Credit: Hard Truth Distilling

In addition to the many tour options at Hard Truth Distilling, the property features an on-site amphitheatre with live music every weekend.


“We were inspired by Sierra Nevada in Asheville, North Carolina,” Smith explains. “So we used the natural landscape of the hills and hollers and built stairs going down to the creek bottom. We used the natural backdrop of the 70–80 ft hardwood trees as our amphitheatre. There are about eight or nine tiers is going down, and at the bottom, we have a stage where we do live music every weekend. There's a quick service restaurant window down below the terraces where you can go in and order some snacks, get cocktails or beer down there, and just kind of spend a lazy afternoon wandering around. It’s totally kid friendly. We have a lot of families come out. I would parallel it to what Napa did in the wine industry where it's not just an adult drinking and tasting experience, it's really a whole family or group of friends or couples date night experience. It's friendly to any kind of experience you want to have on our property.”

One of the rickhouses at Hard Truth Distilling. Credit: Hard Truth Distillery

There’s a lot more to Hard Truth Distilling than distillery tours and tastings. The property has amenities for everyone and just about every kind of experience imaginable. Next door to the distillery, housed in the same building, is the 300-seat Hard Truth Restaurant with a porch overlooking the terrace area. Underneath is the House of Rye, a bookable space with a bar that’s used for private events and busy weekends. Outside, the patio and terrace can hold about 1,200 people.


The whiskey is still at the heart of the operation, however. With production running 24/7, the distillery is laying down around 8,500 barrels a year. Hard Truth’s current whiskey offerings include the Master Distiller’s Reserve Rye whiskeys, featuring a sweet mash malted rye, a sweet mash caramel malted rye, and a sweet mash chocolate malted rye. There’s also a High Road Rye Whiskey as well as a Maple Bourbon Cream. Additional distilled spirits include a very popular toasted coconut rum and cinnamon vodka. Whiskey offerings not produced on-site but bottled by Hard Truth include the Schoonover barrel-smoked whiskeys, which use apple, hickory, and maple woods to create a distinct whiskey flavor profile. Hard Truth’s bourbon that has been produced on-site has not yet been released.

Sitting in on a mixology class. Credit: Hard Truth Distilling

Hard Truth is open for tours and tastings seven days a week Sunday–Thursday, 11am to 9pm and Friday–Saturday, 11am to 10pm. Guests of all ages are welcome, though activities such as tastings are restricted to 21 and over. Visit hardtruth.com for more information and to book tours, tastings, and restaurant reservations.

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