The “Alabama Style” whiskey crew at Clyde May’s is back at it, turning out a Special Reserve edition of its original product. This is the first line extension for the brand, a (sourced) corn/rye/malted barley whiskey that’s aged for up to six years in “mellowed” barrels “and finished non-cold filtered with a slight hint of apple, in the Alabama style.” (Dried apples are actually used in the barreling process to impart a slight fruit flavor. That sounds crazy, but stick with me here.)
Different lots of the Special Reserve will be bottled, each with slight barrel-driven variations; the bottle reviewed here does not contain any lot information, however.
Intensely reddish-ochre in color, the whiskey certainly looks the part of a smooth operator. The nose hits you upside the head with fruit, right from the start. Baked apples, for sure, but also cherries and some floral elements, alongside vanilla and caramel. (For kicks, try this side by side with Baker’s Bourbon.)
On the palate, Clyde May’s Special Reserve is a full-on fruit bomb, shotgunning the tongue with notes of clove-studded oranges, apple brown betty, and a sense at least of chopped almonds scattered atop toffee-covered brownies.
The finish pushes big cinnamon character, more apple fruit, and a lot of warmth. (This is 110 proof whiskey, after all.) I don’t think it particularly needs water, but adding a bit smooths out the rough edges and makes the experience a bit creamier, though less flavorful. Add water literally by the drop, and only one at a time.
Bottom line: Clyde May’s has taken what it learned from its freshman product and elevated it into a true American standout. Just slip a glass into the hand of any bourbon fanatic and see what they have to say. Now how do you like them apples?