Review: Clyde May’s Conecuh Ridge Whiskey (2013)
1) Who is Clyde May? An Alabama farmer and WWII veteran who turned to illegal whiskeymaking to supplement his income… and learn a thing or two about craft distilling. In 2002 Clyde’s son Kenny May decided to revive the family business and open a distillery.
2) Where is Conecuh Ridge? Southern Alabama, near the Florida panhandle. It’s reportedly where at one point the heaviest concentration of moonshine activity in the U.S. was taking place. (There still seems to be some hanky panky going on in the whiskey biz here; several years ago Kenny was busted for violating Alabama liquor laws; ownership has since changed hands.)
3) What, they make whiskey in Alabama? Yeah, and this whiskey — formerly branded as just Conecuh Ridge Whiskey — is evidence that these characters knew what they were doing.
Clyde May’s Whiskey is made with a Bourbon recipe of corn, rye, and malted barley and is aged in charred new oak barrels, reportedly for four years, though no age statement is offered. (Clyde May’s is also not called a Bourbon on the label.)
On the nose there’s a whole lot to love: applesauce, caramel, butterscotch, and coconut notes in various degrees. It’s a little boozy, but the sweet stuff shines through. On the palate, the grain is present but far from overpowering, with that butterscotch particularly strong. There’s a touch of Port character in there, a richness that hints at raisins and dried figs.
The finish is simple and the alcohol burn mellows over time as it aerates in the glass; it’s quite fun to sip on! Good stuff, Mr. May!