A Whiskey Wonderland in Brown County, Indiana

A ”Destination Distillery” just two hours west of Cincinnati is an outdoor paradise serving up more than just whiskey.
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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY HARD TRUTH

Famed for its natural beauty, Brown County, Indiana, is beloved by campers and trekkers alike. Brown County State Park alone is a must-see for its sweeping views and original log cabins. This natural splendor draws artisans of all kinds, including landscape artists who set up shop in Nashville, the area’s main community. And in 2018, local favorite Hard Truth Distilling Co. opened a “destination distillery” that mixes artisan spirits with the great outdoors.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY HARD TRUTH

WHERE TO STAY

Tucked away in the woods of Hard Truth’s 325-acre campus, a two-story rental cabin, owned by the distillery, welcomes guests who are looking for a longer stay. Handmade rocking chairs add to the craftsman-style cabin’s rustic quality, while a screened-in back porch looks out onto woods where deer make their morning commute. The cabin features an open concept living space with two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, and plenty of organic design touches that’ll make you forget you’re staying in a brand new, custom-built space. While you won’t need to venture far to find dining options, the cabin comes with a kitchenette to stock all your favorite snacks. The best part? A stay at the cabin guarantees your group a distillery tour.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY HARD TRUTH

WHAT TO EAT

At the distillery’s very own restaurant, enjoy a menu that features signature starters and cocktails of the month—or stick with the classics, like the Manhattan, which just might be the best you’ve ever tasted. Or try unique inventions, like the Lost in the Woods, made with Hard Truth Vodka and citrus juices. Some of the standout food selections include the Signature Pulled Pork Nachos, with house-smoked pork shoulder and homemade peppercorn ranch. For entrées, you can’t go wrong with a side of pub fries and the Campfire Roast Beef: pot roast covered in beef gravy, red skin potatoes, carrots, onion, and corn on the cob, all wrapped in aluminum with a sprig of rosemary sticking out (you know, for a campfire feel). On the weekends, remember to check out the Bloody Mary Cocktail Bar. And in spring and summer, the large outdoor dining area plays host to live music as Hard Truth on the Rocks.

If you head into Nashville proper, you can breakfast at Heavenly Biscuit or head to Hobnob Corner for fresh lunch favorites. The Nashville House, with its menu full of homestyle American classics, is perfect for a dinner, while the patio at Mexican restaurant Casa del Sol is practically made for evenings out with a margarita in hand.

WHAT TO DO

Nature lovers will want to try the Get Lost ATV Tour. It makes several tasting stops along the way to checking out scenic spots, like the lake where guests can feed the fish (machines take quarters and dispense the food). You’ll spot the world’s smallest rack house on water, a tiny structure bobbing on the lake with one barrel of whiskey. For a touch of romance on your trip, try the Mixology Class, where you can make not only seasonal cocktails, but your very own bespoke couple’s cocktail. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into the making of artisan spirits, check out the Single Barrel Selection Experience or Hard Truth Distillery Tour, both of which offer insider perspectives to the making of the spirits at Hard Truth. And when it’s time to venture out into downtown Nashville, head straight to Van Buren street, where you’ll find local boutiques, charming country stores, and art galleries around every corner.

WALK THROUGH HISTORY

Famous impressionist T.C. Steele moved to Brown County for its picturesque landscape. In 1907, he founded the Art Colony of the Midwest among its rolling hills. Admirers of his work can visit the T.C. Steele Historic Site, where every structure is carefully curated and preserved. Guests can walk through the artist’s large studio, a barn-like structure holding his original art. On a small, guided tour, see the artist’s residence, the “House of the Singing Winds,” built atop of one of the larger hills. Bring your hiking shoes and venture through the 92-acre nature preserve on two hiking trails that trace their way through the landscape. Deep ravines cut by the region’s rivers add to the spot’s beauty, and in spring and summer, watch as wildflowers fill the crevices of the hillside garden planted by Steele’s wife, Selma.

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