Whiskey Review: Clyde May’s Alabama Style Special Reserve

, | December 4, 2015

Clyde May's

image courtesy Savannah Weinstock/copyright The Whiskey Wash

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Clyde May’s whiskey is the current iteration of a long string of whiskies formerly under the heading of Conecuh Ridge Whiskey, currently made in “Alabama Style,” distilled in Kentucky and bottled in Florida. Although the bottle proclaims “since 1946.” that doesn’t ring perfectly true. In addition to that, no one I asked about Clyde May’s had A: ever heard of it, and B: heard of “Alabama Style” whiskey.

Instead of retelling the long and complicated story of how this whiskey came to be, I recommend you read both the Conecuh Ridge Whiskey Wikipedia page and this article entitled “Whiskey, Stories, and Truth”, which discusses Clyde May’s questionable branding and history. Both are sources of enlightenment on the sordid history of Clyde May’s (including the illegal distilling conviction of the whiskey’s own namesake) and what that means for the brand now. The story of Clyde May’s, which we also touched on in a previous news article, proves both good fun and a hard look at whiskey today.

As for this whiskey, Clyde May’s Special Reserve, it is said to be the first line extension of the original bottling. What’s mostly different about it is the higher alcohol content, clocking in at 110 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Medium amber in the glass, Clyde May’s promises warmth.

Apple cider vinegar hits immediately on the nose, followed by a cacophony of scents running the spectrum from spiced fruit to rot. Apple juice, orange blossom water, and caramelized root vegetables give depth and warmth to the nose, while decay, sulphur, and a certain meatiness lend complexity.

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With a very sticky look in the glass, Clyde May’s long legs suggest high levels of residual sugar.

What at first seems like an apple pie bomb breaks down into many disparate but friendly elements. First and foremost, butter, butter, and butter are present. Then comes toffee, peanut brittle, stewed apple and pear, baking spices, molasses, and spiced nuts. Rich, spiced, and creamy on the palate, Clyde May’s evokes holiday traditions of baked apples, eggnog, and fruitcake.

The finish leaves that same apple pie bomb lingering on the palate, fading into pressed cider and leather.


The apple flavoring in the whiskey proves to be the overwhelming flavor defining Clyde May’s. Whether Clyde May’s rocky history is a plus or a minus for this brand is up for discussion, but what I can say is that this whiskey would be perfect for swigging by the campfire or clandestinely dumping into holiday beverages. A whiskey as strange and Clyde May’s deserves an occasion, but maybe not routine.


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Savannah Weinstock

I am a graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR whose Environmental Studies thesis focused on “Scotch Whisky, Sustainability, and Commodification of Nature & Culture”. While writing my thesis, I spent time living and studying in Glasgow, Scotland where I visited and interviewed distilleries nationwide, concentrating on the...