Double Header: Clyde May’s Special Reserve 6 Year Old Straight Bourbon and Clyde May’s Cask Strength 8 Year Old Alabama Style Whiskey

I had previously tried Clyde May’s at it was on the bar of a professional function I attended in Baton Rouge. I was not impressed. But, when I went to Hokus Pokus today, they had me sample two new whiskies on the shelf – Clyde May’s Special Reserve 6 Year Old Special Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey at 110 proof and Clyde May’s Cask Strength Alabama Whiskey at 8 years old and 114 proof. Most important to note is that the Alabama Whiskey is a flavored whiskey that is finished with apple and is not a straight whiskey. Both whiskies are distilled at MGP and are apparently bottled there as well, based on the labels. I don’t think this whiskey has ever seen Alabama. However, Conecuh Brands broke ground for a distillery in Troy, AL, last year, and we should see their own distillate in bottles in 2027. Troy is south of Birmingham, and is closer to Florida than Tennessee. I wouldn’t think the climate there would be ideal to age whiskey, but J.T. Maleck is aging its rice whiskey in South Louisiana and it is delicious, so what do I know? We shall see what they have in four years. Until then, Clyde May’s is MGP whiskey with an Alabama story.

The bourbon cost me $54.99 and the Cask Strength cost $88.99. I am generally not a fan of flavored whiskies but I tried the cask strength at Hokus before really reading the label and it was good so I bought it.

Clyde May’s Special Reserve Straight Bourbon at 110 proof – Color is a nice deep amber. On the swirl is a thin film with thick legs. On the nose is a very traditional vanilla and caramel aroma that is inviting. On the palate, the vanilla tends to dominate over the caramel and there are some nice fruity notes – cherries and green apple notes. On the finish is black pepper, baking spice, a hint of clove, and candied cherries. Really nice mouthfeel and finish.

Clyde May’s Cask Strength “Alabama” Style Whiskey at 114 proof – Color is a super deep amber with flecks of mahogany. Really thick film and legs on the swirl. On the nose is a fruitiness along with vanilla and caramel, which is likely whatever apple finish they use on the whiskey, which according to what I could find on the internet, is dried apples soaked in the whiskey. On the palate, the whiskey has some heavy vanilla along with green apples, with the flavors almost resembling a bourbon made in the Irish whiskey style. On the finish, the green apples mix with baking spices reminding me of the after taste of really good and flakey apple pie, which then fades into cloves. Pretty nice medium bodied mouthfeel.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about the cask strength “Alabama” whiskey. While I get the connection to Clyde May’s moonshine heritage infusing with apple flavors and probably others, it is a bit gimmicky for a barrel aged whiskey that has been aged eight years. But, the taste is really good. However, I am not sure I would spend $80 or more again on a flavored whiskey. That, and I wonder what this whiskey would have been like without the apple infusion, and whether the infusion helped it or hurt it. But, I am glad I bought this bottle to try. Its’ definitely something different.

The Special Reserve Bourbon on the other hand will likely become a regular on my bar. A solid well aged non-chill filtered low rye MGP straight bourbon at high proof and at $55 is always welcome. There are people out there bottling MGP bourbon that is younger and not as good as this and selling it for a lot more. Given how hard it can be at times to get my usual favorites like Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel, Knob Creek Single Barrel, E.H. Taylor, and Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Clyde May’s Special Reserve has made my list of go to high proof bourbons.

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