Clyde May’s is a whiskey that is produced by the Conecuh Ridge Distillery and is famous for being the creation of a moonshiner, Clyde May. When Clyde died in 1990, his son continued the process making sure that it went on to become a legal brand.
Today, there are 5 whiskey types, Straight Rye, Straight Bourbon, and the three that we are more interested in, the Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey, the Clyde May’s Cask Strength Alabama Style Whiskey, and the Clyde May’s Special Reserve Alabama Style Whiskey.
A true whiskey lover appreciates a great whiskey and a great story behind the whiskey. Clyde May certainly has had a handful of experiences that have helped him to bottle that American spirit we hear of.
The History of the Man Behind the Whiskey
Clyde May was born just before the Great Depression; his early years were spent learning how to become resilient to the harsh world. This early upbringing led Clyde to appreciate what ‘true grit’ really was and it is something that he has managed to capture in his whiskeys.
He served in the Second World War, earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Unfortunately for him, he was wounded and sent home, but this was almost a fortunate thing for whiskey lovers. Just four years later, he had gained a reputation for his fine spirits and commitment to quality. Considering the national prohibition at this time, Clyde became known as the most-wanted moonshiner.
Between the 1950s and the 1980s, Clyde was able to produce approximately 300 gallons of whiskey. Some were sold unaged while the rest was aged in charred barrels with dried apples added to it.
This, however, did land him in federal prison for 8 months! Not deterred from his mission, Clyde continued to perfect his whiskey-making skills. In 2001, Clyde May’s whiskey finally becomes legal. Over 70 years of determination resulted in Clyde May earning the title of ‘the Official State Spirit of Alabama.
Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey
This is a beautiful golden bronze colored whiskey. On the nose, you will notice a rich caramel, green apples and other dried orchard fruits. The first taste is of caramel and butterscotch with just a hint of apple. There is a lovely warmth to it with a little black pepper and toasted oak.
It is bottled at 85 proof and there is a nice kick to this whiskey but at the same time, you can appreciate a nice smooth finish.
Clyde May’s Special Reserve Alabama Style Whiskey
The first thing you will notice is the rich burgundy color, quite unique for a whiskey. It smells somewhat sweeter than the previous Clyde May’s with delicious candied apple scents along with toffee, nutmeg, and cinnamon. On the palate, you will appreciate its complexity. There is an initial balance of sweet and spice before the whiskey comes into play. You can taste vanilla, dark fruits, and tobacco and leather.
It is not for the faint-hearted. The Clyde May’s Special Reserve Alabama Style Whiskey is 110 proof- 55% ABV. That being said, the balance of flavors means that it won’t blow your head off, but you will want more.
Clyde May’s Cask Strength Alabama Style Whiskey
It is slightly more scarlet than burgundy and has a rich scent of toasted cedar and a touch of peach. People call this a bright whiskey; it has plenty of vanilla and molasses along with hints of burnt sugar and just a touch of oak. Right at the end, you can taste tart green apples mixed with a little warmth.
With only a few thousand bottles a year, it is well worth treating yourself to one of these when you get the chance. It has been aged for either 8, 9 or 10 years. At 117 proof (58.5%), it is a little stronger than the special reserve.
Is Clyde May’s a Whiskey or a Bourbon
In order for a whiskey to be classed as a bourbon, it must be made from at least 51% corn, aged in new oak barrels and be produced in the U.S. Only the Clyde May Straight Bourbon qualifies.
The range of whiskeys uses a grain mash of 55% corn, 30% rye and 15% barley. However, it isn’t aged in new barrels and therefore can’t be classed as a bourbon. This doesn’t stop any of them from being amazing spirits.
Clyde May Awards
The first official award for Clyde May’s whiskey was back in 2012 at the Micro Liquor Spirit Awards. The Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey has won the following awards:
- Clyde May’s Special Reserve won the chairman’s trophy at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in 2106.
- Clyde May’s 8-year-old Cask Strength won the gold award at the New York World Wine & Spirits competition in 2016. Liquor.com has also placed it in the top 5 Cask Strength Whiskeys.
- com also placed the Clyde May’s 9-year-old Cask Strength Whiskey on its ’10 Great New Aged Bourbons and Ryes’ list.
How to Drink Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey
With such a top-class whiskey, you can drink any of the Alabama Style whiskeys as you prefer. It is perfect neat or on the rocks and if you add just a little water, you will allow all of the flavors to completely shine.
We tried a good number of Clyde’s traditional recipes and found two that we preferred.
Warm Apple Cider
The perfect drink to warm you up at the end of a cold day. This drink is slightly spiced, quick and easy. You will need:
- The Original Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey
- Apple Cider
- Cinnamon sticks
In a pan, add three-parts apple side to one-part Alabama Style Whiskey, warm it up so that it is hot but not boiling. Pour into glasses and add a cinnamon stick to serve.
The Clyde Mule
The Clyde Mule takes the traditional cocktail to a new depth. The ingredients are:
- 5oz of the Original Clyde May’s Alabama Style Whiskey
- 75oz of lime juice
- Ginger beer
Don’t feel you have to measure the amounts correctly, we stuck to the two fingers plus one finger rule. Mix all of the ingredients and add to a glass filled with ice. If you want to impress, and a lime wheel to decorate.