25 Mar Hard Truth Debuts Its Aged Rum with a Special Spirits Dinner and Bottle Release
by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap
Hard Truth Distilling in Nashville has been up and running for a good while now. They were putting out white spirits like rum and vodka from the beginning of operation while they started aging their bourbon and whiskey in barrels in their large rack house on their 350 acre property. But now they have a new spirit to release – a two-year, charred-oak aged rum that takes this white spirit to another level.
To celebrate their release of their aged rum, Hard Truth is having a ticketed spirits dinner on Thursday night, March 28th and a public bottle release on Friday evening, March 29th, both at Hard Truth Hills. You can get tickets for the paired spirits dinner here, while the bottle release is open to everyone the next night.
Thursday’s spirits pairing dinner sounds delicious. The first course is a rum glazed jerk chicken satay paired with a Lakeside cocktail of the aged rum made with Kina d’Or, honey, and lemon. The second course is a cedar plank smoked salmon with pineapple, bell peppers, and asparagus matched up with the C.R.E.A.M. cocktail of the aged rum with coconut cream, jalapeno, pineapple, and passion fruit.
The final course will be a glazed spiced rum walnut and dried cherry cake with a sugar rum glaze. This will work wonderfully with a Caribbean coffee cocktail made from of the aged rum with Cointreau, coffee liqueur, egg white, and mole bitters. There are only 40 places at the table with a chance to buy a limited number of bottles of the aged rum afterward, so you should get your tickets soon.
Friday night is the public bottle release for the aged rum, with a two-bottle limit per person on a first come, first served basis. This is great, but perhaps we should explain why this rum is so special. It isn’t a straight rum that is merely aged, this product is special on several levels.
First, many rums are made with 100% cane sugar, but not so here. The Hard Truth Rum is made with 50% cane sugar and 50% pearl black select molasses. The choice of the high-grade molasses gives this rum a fuller body and richer flavor because it has less impurities as compared to all other molasses. But comes at a price, this molasses is also dearer than other base rum ingredients.
Second, the base rum from Hard Truth is a unique product because of its fermentation. The yeast for the rum was isolated in the Caribbean, and was employed at a higher temperature for a “hot” fermentation, leaving the rum produced with more fruity esters than many other rums. This makes the Hard Truth rum more like a tropical rum than those typically made in America. Even more, the aged rum is treated differently than other rums in finishing. Head Distiller Bryan Smith said, “The product is double distilled on our pot still. If we are bottling as our white rum, we would then lightly filter and bottle at 80 proof. But for this aged release we take the spirit to around 110 proof and put it in a new charred white oak barrel to rest for 6 months to 3 years.”
Thirdly, the way Hard Truth’s rum is aged is fairly uncommon. Aged rums, while not being commonplace, are not rare. However, most aged rums are matured in used whiskey barrels, which will give a small amount of barrel characteristic, but also fouls the rum with a bit of whiskey. In contrast, Hard Truth has chosen to use fresh, charred-oak barrels to age their rum.
The use of fresh charred barrels gives a more smoky characteristic to the rum, with more caramel, vanillin, and coffee flavors imparted. This all works to transmit more flavor without detracting from the cane sugar smoothness of the rum. Using a whiskey barrel alters the flavor of the rum by putting some of those harsher whiskey flavors into the final product. In this case, the point was to give the rum more oak character and relate it to bourbon, not to give it a whiskey character.
The aging of the rum itself really does change the flavor components and overall drinkability of the product. Bryan noted, “White rum tends to be a bit more lively, a bit more aggressive on the palate and light in body. Most people wouldn’t sip white rum straight so it’s typically used as a cocktail ingredient. Hard Truth aged rum has more depth of flavor, a rich depth of smoke, caramel, and vanilla flavor profiles. It’s great for sipping neat on the rocks or is excellent in a cocktail, including tiki-drink cocktails.”
The bottle release will be held on Friday evening, the 29th starting at 6pm, with a total of 200 bottles at 750 ml each being made available. The price is $40/bottle, which is a nice price point despite it’s many unique and costly features and when many aged rum are in the $60-$100/bottle range. Bryan summed up his team’s pride in this aged rum by saying, “We took a great deal of time and care to create this rum and are very proud to share it with our fans. We hope to also use this as a kick off for what our future whiskey releases could be at our new destination distillery at Hard Truth Hills.”