Clyde May’s Whiskey is a brand popular in Alabama whiskey folklore, having actually been Official State Spirit of Alabama back in 2004 despite the fact it hadn’t actually been distilled in state for some time (it is currently made in Kentucky for the most part). This could soon change, however, as a build out of the new Conecuh Ridge Distillery has been announced.
Conecuh Ridge Distillery, makers of Clyde May, said last week in conjunction with Alabama governor Kay Ivey that they will be consolidating operations in Alabama. Plans call for bringing the brand home to that state’s city of Troy, which is not too far from where it got its start. It is there they will build an artisan distillery, rackhouses and a bottling hub alongside a tasting and experience center and a replica of the original still that Clyde May used when first distilling his whiskey in the hills of Alabama in the 1940s.
The distillery will put an initial investment of $13.6 million into the project. There was no immediate word on when build out might start or when the facility would be completed. It is expected to become a popular local tourism destination.
“We continuously market our Clyde May’s brand in the spirit of our founder, Clyde May,” said President and CEO of Conecuh Ridge Distillery Roy Danis in a prepared statement. “His values of quality, integrity and craftsmanship are the building blocks of our company today. Coming home to Troy, Alabama, where the brand got its start, reinforces these values and makes all of us who work for this great brand so very proud.”
“[This] announcement affirms that our state’s sound business climate is a positive attraction for companies looking to find a home,” added Governor Ivey. “We are glad Conecuh Ridge Distillery has chosen Troy for their operations center. “In addition to the 50 jobs being created, we are excited about the potential economic impact this company will have in Pike County as this becomes a tourist destination for the official spirit of Alabama.”
For those unfamiliar with Clyde May whiskey, the story goes that it was created by one Mr. May, an Alabama farmer and war hero, in the late 1940s. Clyde lived in Alabama’s Conecuh Ridge and was a moonshiner by trade. Using copper stills, fresh Alabama spring water and local grains, he aged his whiskey in charred oak barrels and experimented with grains, stills, and processes until he perfected his own unique finish–Alabama Style. He added oven-dried apples to his barrels to get an extra level of smoothness in the final taste.
In 2001, Clyde’s son recreated his father’s famous recipe and began legally distilling his father’s brand while maintaining the same traditions that ultimately made his father’s whiskey the official state spirit.