If any American distillery makes things confusing — not on purpose, mind you — it’s Alabama’s Clyde May’s. The distillery played down the “Conecuh Ridge” branding years ago, and its labels have changed design many times in the 2010s. A variety of special editions have hit the market, including a straight bourbon, which is not the same as the whiskey reviewed below. (Even the website URL has changed.)
What’s the big story with Clyde May’s? “Alabama Style” whiskey is made largely in a classic bourbon style, but it is finished with some dried apples tossed into the barrels as it ages. The result is a distinctive — and quite agreeable — flavor profile.
So what’s different now vs. a few years ago? Let’s find out, as today we look at two Clyde May’s expressions, the latest version of its Alabama Style Whiskey (same idea as the old Conecuh Ridge Whiskey), and a 10 year old cask strength version of that same style.
Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey (2018) – A lot has changed here since 2013. The whiskey, as the company notes, is “aged 6 to 7 years in oak barrels and finished with a hint of apple.” Back in 2013, this whiskey was only (reportedly) 4 years old. It’s also now 85 proof, instead of 86. As usual for the brand, the nose is immediately intense with apples and a significant amount of spice, plus notes of barrel char, some fresh-cut lumber, and mint. The palate hits immediately with caramel apple notes, milk chocolate, and a heavier clove element that outweighs the other spices in the mix. Powerful but easily approachable, the bold body leads to a finish that echoes barrel char, cinnamon, and a light sweetness. All told, it’s a perfect example of the Clyde May’s house style — and a whiskey well worth drinking on any occasion. 85 proof. A- / $30 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey Cask Strength 10 Years Old – While Clyde May’s released a 9 year old cask strength edition last year, this expression is one louder. That said, the experience is quite similar on the whole. There’s ample heat here, though the nose still exudes banana, vanilla caramel, and white pepper notes. The palate is quite hot at full strength, showing lots of pepper first, with apple emerging alongside a big, salted caramel note. Some barrel char hits the tongue as well, leading to a finish that showcases a bit of smoke. The fruit manages to sustain through this, leading to a racy conclusion that is heavy with caramel and a bit of honey. 114 proof. B+ / $100 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]