Spirits Stories: Sipes’ Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Hard Truth Distilling Co.

Spirits Stories: Sipes’ Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Posted: August 17, 2020

Patience is a virtue, but our love of bourbon got the better of us — just a little bit.

As we patiently wait for the Hard Truth Distilling Co. sweet mash bourbon hand-crafted on the grounds here at Hard Truth Hills to slowly mature in our rack house, Master Distiller Bryan Smith tasked himself with identifying a sourced bourbon that he could put his stamp on and confidently present to the world.

Enter Sipes’ Straight Bourbon Whiskey — a curated, four-year-old, Indiana-crafted bourbon that Hard Truth finishes in hand-selected rum casks, blends, and bottles on site.

Adventure awaits
The journey to Sipes’ began more than three years ago, when Smith and his fellow distillers were still crafting spirits in a few small rooms over Big Woods Pizza Co. in Nashville, Indiana. Hard Truth Hills was under construction just down the road, a site that included the new, state-of-the-art distillery and a rackhouse that could house aging products on a scale that the Hard Truth Distilling Co. family had only dreamed of at that point.

That’s when the Hard Truth founders approached Smith with a special task: Find a bourbon for guests to sample when they toured Hard Truth Hills — one that would give guests an idea, a glimmer, of the Hard Truth-crafted products that’d soon be resting in oak in that brand new rack house.

Bourbon right along
Smith began visiting other producers, testing and tasting spirits, looking for one that he felt was worthy of being served to our guests.

“I ultimately found a delicious bourbon whiskey at one of the largest and highest quality producers of bourbon whiskey right here in our home state of Indiana,” Smith said. “The only piece left in my mind was how to inject a bit of Hard Truth DNA into the whiskey. We had just dumped several barrels of Hard Truth Aged Rum which informed the decision to finish this bourbon in Hard Truth rum barrels.”

And for years, guests of Hard Truth Hills have enjoyed sampling that rum barrel-finished bourbon as part of their tours. Excitement and enthusiasm built around that bourbon, and folks were asking for more — which led the Hard Truth team to start looking at ways to expand that product line and begin distributing beyond the Hard Truth Hills Tours & Tastings Center.

Enter Henry A. Sipes
With that base bourbon in hand, the Hard Truth team started building the rest of the package, developing a production and distribution plan and honing in on the fine details to find the heart of the product.
“We connected the story of the spirit to the first known distiller here in Brown County, Henry Sipes,” Smith said. The team also decided to explore beyond the Hard Truth rum barrels and include additional rum finishing barrels in the process.

The result of all of this work is Sipes’ Straight Bourbon Whiskey — the first expression of which is a four-year, straight bourbon whiskey finished in Jamaican rum casks, said Smith, with “more to come with future Sipes’ releases as we source unique used rum barrels from all over the world.”


Sipes’ Straight Bourbon Whiskey is now available at Hard Truth Hills and all Big Woods Restaurant Group locations. This week, it will also begin appearing in select stores across Indiana. To search a vendor near you, visit our Hard Truth Spirits Finder.