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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge Whiskey

By John Barecki

Like many, the story of Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge Whiskey starts with a legendary moonshiner producing unaged corn whiskey in Alabama. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Clyde May would produce 300 gallons a week. His high quality “shine” was well known around Alabama because of his attention to detail when it came to quality of equipment and the extra steps he would take to create a premium spirit. During the run, Clyde would take a small portion of spirit and allow it to age in charred oak barrels with an odd accompaniment—dried apples—and within a year of aging it would come out with a lovely oak character brought forth from the high temperatures in Alabama. (High temps allow the spirit to push and pull into the wood grain more frequently than in Kentucky). All of this preparation created a wonderfully eclectic whiskey which is now the official state spirit of Alabama.

On the nose there is a mixture of fresh and dried apple followed by thick caramel, reminding me of a fall ride through an orchard with downed leaves and damp earthy tones. The first sip hits like a caramel apple then produces a mellow corn midsection with hints of oatmeal and hazelnuts. There is just a hint of a sourmash bite at the end. It has a really wonderful finish that rides down to soft vanilla and orchard tones. This whiskey is wonderful on it's own—no need for water or ice—and could well be used in a hot toddy, a spiced punch, or as a fun twist in a Manhattan.

Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge Whiskey is available at Siciliano's Market for $31.97/750ml and $19.26/375ml.

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