Clyde May’s Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey
Alabama’s official state spirit, this whiskey earned the Gold Medal at the WSWA Tasting Competition in 2012.
$39.99 Retail Price
Proof: 85 (42.5% ABV)
Distiller: Kentucky Bourbon Distillers
Availability: This product is not available in AK, DE, HI, MA, MN or TX.
Soft, sweet aroma of honey, vanilla and caramel on the nose. Initial palate has flavors of oak and caramel that fade into a finish with strong notes of fresh apples and dried fruits.
After serving in World War II, legend has it that Clyde May returned to his native Alabama to raise his eight children and tend to the farm that he had purchased before the war began. Like many farmers at the time, Clyde would distill the excess grains he harvested into corn whiskey — “branch-farming,” he liked to call it. From the 1950s to the 1980s, May managed to produce nearly 300 gallons of whiskey a week just southeast of Montgomery in a still that he had designed and built himself. While much of May’s whiskey was sold unaged, a portion of the whiskey he produced was aged in charred oak casks into which dried apples were dropped in order to enhance the flavor.
Always distilling whiskey outside the law, May was arrested in 1973 and served an 18-month sentence at the Maxwell Air Force Base. “He sure had a reputation for making fine whiskey,” said Thomas Allison, a former officer with the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Upon his release, May gave up his cell to the man who convicted him — Attorney General John Mitchell, who was convicted in 1974 on charges relating to the Watergate scandal.
After May’s death in 1990, his son, Kenny, took up the family business and began working with Kentucky Bourbon Distillers to produce a whiskey in honor of his father. Using his father’s recipe and water imported from Conecuh Ridge, May produced the first legal batch of Clyde May’s Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey over a decade ago.
Today, Clyde May’s Whiskey continues to be made from the same recipe that Kenneth’s father perfected nearly 50 years ago — a mash of corn, rye and malted barley. Once the grains are distilled, they are aged in oak barrels for an average of five to six years. In April 2004, the State of Alabama designated Clyde May’s Conecuh Ridge Alabama Fine Whiskey as the “official state spirit.” The whiskey also earned the Gold Medal at the WSWA Tasting Competition and the MicroLiquor Spirits Awards in 2012. In addition, it was named one of the Top 50 Spirits of 2012 by Wine Enthusiast, which gave it a score of 93 points. Clyde May’s Whiskey has a soft, gentle flavor, and sweet notes of honey, caramel and apple that continue to pay homage to its namesake.
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