The Official State Spirit of Alabama, Clyde May’s of Conecuh Ridge Distillery, continues to release new expressions with a steady clip, with the latest rye whiskey coming fast on the heels from several 2022 releases that Drinkhacker recently dipped into. We’ve seen greater ambition and more boldness with each release, but their impression on us to date have been somewhat inconsistent.
Today we dive into their limited release 9-Year-Old Cask Strength Straight Rye Whiskey, comprised of 91% rye and non-chill filtered, with a special wood-finishing technique that steeps the whiskey for the final four months in chips of American oak, cherry wood, and French oak after it’s been aged in ex-bourbon barrels.
For starters, I couldn’t help but notice the hue to be a lighter golden-wheat than expected for the age statement. The nose is an enchanting cherry and vanilla that promises some fruit-forward sweetness with spicy but tempered nods to cinnamon. The palate is a lively spice bomb of cinnamon heat, herbal bitterness (akin to arugula) and a healthy announcement of oak and leather. There is also a weighty caramel and vanilla sweetness, touched by the stewed cherries alluded to on the nose. The finish waltzes off into the sunset between the oakiness and cherry cola notes. (It’s worth noting that the 9 year old presents some of the sweetness that was wanting in the 4 year old straight rye whiskey reviewed by Chris in 2022).
If cherry cola is your thing, this rye is for you. There is nothing unexpected or overly complex, and it features less heat than even the 113 proof would have one expect (and one might possibly even beg for a few more notches to see the full potential of this release), but all in all it’s a fun pour with plenty of spice and sweetness for any audience. Throwing in some additional ice cubes would make this a fitting, sessionable summer sipper in lieu of an umbrella cocktail. All told, it’s a reliable and pleasant addition in Clyde May’s portfolio.
B+ / $65 / clydemays.com