Showing posts with label MGP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MGP. Show all posts

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Whiskey JYPSI Legacy Vol. 001 Review & Tasting Notes


There are craft distillers out there who have truly earned my respect. They aren’t afraid to do something unordinary. They take risks. They break rules.


One such person is a gentleman named Ari Sussman. Recently, I reviewed Three Chord Honey Toasted Whiskey. Ari was the man behind that. Last November, I reviewed Mammoth Distilling’s Northern Rye No. 1, which happened to take my 2022 American Rye of the Year. Ari was the man behind that.


When I learned that Eric Church – yes, that Eric Church, wanted to launch a whiskey, and he chose Ari as his distiller, all of my usual concerns about celebrity whiskeys vanished. That’s not to say that I’m giving it a free pass, but I’m also not going into this worried.


“The man in the red leather chair, whose career has included winemaking in France, bartending on multiple continents and working with seed banks to revive historic grain varietals for whiskey making, had been listening to a cross-section of music from Eric Church for nearly four hours with his headphones on. Based on the assignment, it seemed like a natural place to start. After all, the co-founders of the whiskey company were Eric Church and his friend and business partner, Raj Alva.


And that assignment? Break the rules. Don’t follow anyone else’s idea of how it should be done. Just make the finest quality whiskey possible, be creative, and have fun.”Whiskey JYPSI


Church and Alva’s company is called Outsider Spirits, and its first release, Legacy Batch 001, launched only two weeks ago. The name, Whiskey JYPSI, commemorates those who aren’t mere followers; they’re adventure-seekers and do things their own way.


There are three components to this experiment:

  • The majority, a full 70%, is Bourbon from MGP utilizing a 99% corn/1% malted barley mash aged 7 and 8 years.
  • Next is Canadian whisky from (presumably) Alberta Distillers. The Rye comes from 91% rye and 9% malted barley, aged 20 years, and is 21% of the blend.
  • The final 9% is again from MGP, an American Single Malt that rested four years in new, American oak.


The blend winds up weighing in at 57.5% ABV (115°). I’m excited to taste this, but before I do, I must thank Whiskey JYPSI for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. On a side note, the presentation was cleverly disguised in a book. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious.



Appearance: I sipped this whiskey (I don’t even know how to classify it) neat in my Glencairn glass. It was a rich caramel amber that formed a syrupy curtain of tears.


Nose: I allowed this whiskey to sit for about 15 minutes before exploring further. As I did, I could smell the aroma, which immediately reminded me of Werther’s Originals candy. Floral rye and roasted almonds were hidden beneath. When I drew that air through my lips, butterscotch crossed my tongue.


Palate: The mouthfeel was oily, and the initial sip didn’t conceal its proof. The second one went down easier and allowed me to identify flavors. The front was nutty with corn, hazelnut, and almond, and the middle offered caramel, rye spice, and vanilla. The back featured clove, cinnamon, and deep, charred oak.


Finish: Whiskey JYPSI has one of those slow, rolling finishes that starts playfully, then continues to build into a massive crescendo of cinnamon Red Hots, charred oak, hazelnut, almond, and clove.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  You may have noticed that, until now, I’ve not mentioned the price or where it can be purchased. It is available in “limited quantities” on and in select Tennessee package shops for $199.99.


I found Whiskey JYPSI to be a delicious blend; it is another winner from Ari Sussman. I would buy this all day long… at about half its listed price. If you’ve got a couple of Benjamins burning a hole in your pocket, this would be a tasty way to spend them. But I’d instead grab a pour at a Bar first. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Monday, May 1, 2023

Three Chord Honey Toasted Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

If you’re into music, you’ve probably heard of Neil Giraldo. He’s spent the last forty years as a musician, a record producer, and a songwriter. He has been married to Pat Benatar since 1982. He’s worked with Kenny Loggins, Rick Springfield, Rick Derringer, and several other artists. He is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


He also is the founder of Three Chord Bourbon:


“One night as I was sipping bourbon in my studio with friends, the conversation naturally turned to music, sound and composition. We began to wonder how blending the ‘tones’ of various whiskeys together could create a unique ‘harmony’ of flavor.

We knew bourbon’s role in Americana music and the American dream. We knew we loved it. We knew that the blues and the ‘three chord’ progression were a blank score that we could compose our own masterpiece with. Truth, heart, and integrity.” – Neil Giraldo


Now, I know what you’re thinking: Oh great, another crummy celebrity whiskey. Shut up and keep reading. Trust me here.


Ari Sussman is the Head Distiller and Blender at Steel Bending Spirits in Chelsea, Michigan. He’s the man who knows what he’s doing with whiskey and is responsible for producing Three Chord Bourbon.


Today, in 20 states nationwide, Three Chord will release its Honey Toasted Whiskey. It is a limited-edition, one-off blended from a 6-year MGP 21% rye Bourbon, a 5-year MGP 36% rye Bourbon, and an 8-year Kentucky 100% corn whiskey. After blending, the whiskey rested in toasted barrels sourced from Independent Stave Company and Speyside Cooperage for three months. From there, the whiskey was moved to barrels that aged honey from Fern Valley Farms in Arkansas. The result was a whiskey weighing in at 55.65% ABV (111.3°). A 750ml package comes with a suggested price of $59.99.


Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part, I must thank Three Chord Bourbon for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s do this!


Appearance: I sipped this neat from my Glencairn glass. Inside, it was a golden amber liquid. It formed a medium-heavy rim that yielded syrupy droplets that crawled back to the pool.


Nose: I smelled toasted oak, nutmeg, corn, vanilla, cedar, and honey. When I drew the air through my lips, it was as if someone detonated a massive honey bomb.


Palate: The texture was sticky and thick. The front of my palate tasted raw honey, cornbread, and cedar, while the middle featured nutmeg, tobacco, and creamy caramel. Flavors of charred oak, clove, and old leather formed the back.


Finish: The finish was warm and very long. This was the only part of the drinking experience where the proof became known. Toasted oak, barrel char, leather, and clove were evident; those were hewn together by sweet honey.


With Water:  Curiosity got the better part of me, and I added two drops of water to my glass. Honey, vanilla, and caramel exploded off the nose and were almost heavenly. I didn’t even want to sip it; I was too busy being mesmerized by the smell. The palate highlighted flavors of caramel, thick honey, toasted marshmallow, and clove.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Three Chord Honey Toasted Whiskey was impressive as hell and truly wowed me. It is one of the finer whiskeys I’ve tried in 2023, and that takes into consideration some very impressive pours. It is stupid-affordable, and you’d be a fool to pass this one up. In other words, it steals my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Friday, April 21, 2023

Tumblin' Dice Barrel Proof, Single Barrel Straight Rye Review

It wasn’t long ago when you’d mention MGP, and people would roll their eyes. They’d say things like, “Oh, gee, another MGP copycat whiskey. Yawn.” Then, one day, things changed on a dime. MGP was da bomb, and everyone wanted to get as much of it as possible.


You had people like Dave Schmier who never lost faith. In fact, he built his reputation by sourcing some of the best barrels MPG had to offer under his Redemption brand. After much success, he sold it to Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. He took his winnings, rolled the dice again, and in 2015, he started Proof and Wood Ventures.


Proof and Wood has since grown to include several brands. One of its most popular is Tumblin’ Dice, which has Dave doing what he does best: betting on winners from MGP (now Ross & Squibb) stocks.


His newest release from Tumblin’ Dice is a single-barrel, barrel-proof Straight Rye. His ante is a 7-year-old, 58.74% ABV (117.48°) whiskey distilled from the familiar 95% rye/5% malted barley mash. It is packaged in a 700ml bottle (which, incidentally, will become a more and more common size with American whiskeys) and retails in the neighborhood of $85.00.


I must thank Proof and Wood for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. No more wagers; let’s #DrinkCurious and see if we have a winner or not.


Appearance: This whiskey was a brilliant orange amber. A thick rim released a bunch of jagged tears glued to my Glencairn glass's wall.


Nose: I engaged with this whiskey neat. The most notable thing I smelled was orange citrus. I was taken aback because that’s not what I expect from a barrel-proof 95/5 Rye. The remainder of the aroma consisted of rich vanilla, brown sugar, toasted oak, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Drawing the air through my lips made me think of an orange dreamsicle.


Palate: An extremely oily texture that let the liquid flow across my tongue. I tasted orange peel, vanilla, and brown sugar at the front. Midway through, I encountered cinnamon spice, rye spice, and nutmeg. The back featured tobacco leaf, black pepper, and dry oak.


Finish: Tumblin’ Dice possessed one of those freight train finishes. It started off slow and built in intensity, then ran forever. Black pepper, cinnamon Red Hots, dry oak, and tobacco leaf were easily plucked.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Even after sipping this and several minutes into waiting for the finish to subside, I’m still enchanted with the bold orange notes. Neither the nose nor palate hinted at how potent this whiskey is. Only the finish reveals its true nature. I can’t think of anything wrong with this Rye; it highlights everything MGP did correctly. If you see this on the store shelf, go all in and grab the Bottle. You won’t regret it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Monday, March 20, 2023

BHAKTA Spirits 2013 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


If you don’t recognize his name, you are probably familiar with the whiskey brand he founded in 2008: WhistlePig. Raj Bhakta sold it in 2019; since then, he’s created BHAKTA Spirits.


BHAKTA Spirits is built on a simple, optimistic premise: the world abounds with treasures. We seek these treasures - forgotten spirits, decrepit properties - with an eye for overlooked quality and latent potential. Our search spans continents and centuries. Our foundation rests on Four Pillars: we seek the Rare and the Exquisite, in the service of Value and Purpose.” – BHAKTA Spirits


Amazingly, Raj has curated spirits from every year between 2023 and 1868! These include whiskeys and brandies. And today, I have an opportunity to taste BHATKA 2013 Bourbon.


True to its name, this Bourbon was distilled in 2013 by MGP from a mash of 99% corn and 1% malted barley and spent nine years and five months in American oak. The Bourbon was then finished for a handful of months in wet French oak that previously held 50-year-old Armagnac. It is bottled at its cask strength, but this is where things are confusing. My sample bottle shows 60% ABV (120°), whereas BHATKA’s website states 50.3% ABV (110.6°). I’ll find out what it likely is once I start sipping it.


BHATKA 2013 Bourbon has a suggested retail price of $149.00, and if you order from its website, it will start shipping to 41 eligible states on March 27th. However, 2000 cases have been distributed in a dozen states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado, California, Texas, Georgia, Vermont, and Tennessee.


BHAKTA Spirits provided me with a sample of Bourbon 2013 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. However, it also included a sample of its 50-year-old Armagnac, which I’m admittedly excited about. I thank BHAKTA Spirits for sending both; let’s #DrinkCurious and explore this whiskey.


Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass and drank it neat. The orange-amber liquid left a thin, fragile rim on the wall, releasing tiny, sticky droplets.


Nose: This is one of those whiskeys you can smell from across the room. It burst with chocolate, vanilla, plum, red berries, nutmeg, and oak smells. I encountered plum and nutmeg as I pulled the aroma through my lips.


Palate: A silky mouthfeel introduced me to plums, berries, and baked apple flavors. As it moved to my mid-palate, I tasted a combination of Nutella and butterscotch. The back offered French oak, dry leather, and sweet tobacco.   


Finish: The plum flavor carried the entirety of this Bourbon—Butterscotch and baked apples mingled with dry leather and tobacco. But, before all was said and done, my throat stumbled upon hazelnut. All in all, the finish was long and warm.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I get squirrelly at $150.00 Bourbons younger than a decade. The sample bottle’s printed proof is likely mislabeled, and the website’s stated 100.6° is accurate. It was warming but not enough to make me think the proof was higher.


I’ve sipped Armagnac-finished Bourbons before but never finished in a wet barrel, and let me tell you: these are two different animals entirely. There was significant fruitiness and dryness of good French brandy, yet the Bourbon notes were not lost in the process.


This Bourbon had a richness to it that must be experienced to appreciate, and while an awesome whiskey bar may have a bottle available, that will be a rare event. My recommendation? If you see this on your store’s shelf (or in its locked case), grab a Bottle. You won’t regret it. Cheers!


Oh Yeah, The Armagnac: I’m not penning a review on the brandy, but I did pour some to discover what smells and tastes it possessed. And, because this was a half-century old, I grabbed myself a clean glass (I’m not an animal).


It is 48.2% ABV (97.4°), and the label states it comes from Barrel 23. BHAKTA Spirits has its 1972 vintage Armagnac listed on its website for $419.00. I smelled plenty of dried fruits, including raisins and cranberries. Conversely, it tasted of old leather and cigars. But I also found flavors of raisins, dates, and figs. Cocoa powder had the last words. It was a dry brandy and vaporized any moisture in my mouth, leaving plenty of what I call pucker power, meaning I was left smacking my tongue and lips.


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Saturday, March 11, 2023

"Lamboozhound" Blend Project of La Crosse Distilling High Rye Light Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

Every so often, I have friends in the retail liquor business who ask me to review their barrel picks or blended whiskey projects. Today I’m exploring Lamboozhound, a blended whiskey project created by Sean Wipfli of Niemuth’s Southside Market, located at 2121 S. Oneida Street in Appleton, Wisconsin.


Lamboozhound began its journey as La Crosse Distilling Co.’s High Rye Light Whiskey. It contains portions of four of six Niemuth’s La Crosse store picks, which were then aged at least two years in four of ex-Niemuth’s store pick barrels. The cooperage used was:


a Heaven Hill barrel used to age maple syrup and Bourbon;

a Driftless Glen third-fill Rye barrel;

a Great Northern Distilling second-fill Rye barrel; and

an MGP barrel that initially held Bourbon, then Stout.


Lamboozhound is packaged at 90°. There are 180 - 750ml bottles available priced at $30.99.


I hold my friends' whiskeys to the same standards as anything else. It has to pass muster. If you are curious if I’ve ever rated these lower than a Bottle, the answer is absolutely. In fact, I’ve done it with a prior pick or two that Sean did for Niemuth’s. So, let’s #DrinkCurious and discover how this one turned out. 


Appearance: I sipped this blend neat in my Glencairn glass. Frankly, it presented similarly to a standard La Crosse High Rye Light Whiskey, the color of pale straw and a thick rim. Slow, sticky tears fell back into the pool.


Nose: I found Lamboozhound quite fragrant as it was resting in my glass. I came across vanilla cream, milk chocolate, rye spice, hops, and something minorly astringent. Those last two notes I attribute to the Stout influence. Drawing that vapor through my lips created a blast of orange and tangerine flavors.


Palate: A buttery texture greeted my tongue. The front tasted of hops, vanilla, and maple syrup. Midway through, I found rye spice and a hint of cinnamon, whereas the back featured citrus, oak, and clove.


Finish: If I didn’t know better, I could wonder if Sean dumped a dollop of orange juice for good measure because that was the first thing I thought of after I swallowed. Clove and hops came next, and while the clove fell off, the hops lasted far longer. Overall, it was long.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I’ll start by saying that I’m not a beer guy, and it seemed to me its character dominated the blend. I’ve had beer-finished whiskeys and found some enjoyable, but they were all less hoppy. Lamboozhound should easily appeal to someone who savors a strong beer influence. I believe the fairest rating on Lamboozhound is a Bar. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Friday, March 3, 2023

Lock & Load American Bourbon Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

One of the essential tools a retail marketing professional has is packaging. If you can get the consumer to stop dead in their tracks and look at your product, you’ve already won half the battle. And, in a liquor store environment, with brands using bottles of the same size and shape, most concentrate on differentiation via the label.


Occasionally, you get a brand that goes whole hog with a unique bottle design. Sometimes, the liquid inside is decent. Many times, you realize that you only have a cool decanter.


Last month, I visited Antioch Fine Wine & Liquors in Antioch, Illinois. As I was perusing the aisles, I saw a bottle that caught my attention. It was shaped like a bullet, with a copper jacket and everything. Wow, that’s nifty; what is it? The marketer excellently did their job.


I picked up the 100ml bottle, priced at $6.99, and the label proclaimed Lock & Load American Bourbon Whiskey. I asked my friend who owns the shop to tell me about it. He laughed and said he didn’t even know they had it; one of his employees must have ordered it.


Now my curiosity was piqued. The small print on the bottle indicated it was distilled in Indiana (meaning MGP/Ross & Squibb), that it was aged a minimum of six months, and, oh yeah, it was re-imported by Aiko Importers, Inc. Re-imported?


Time for a segway. On the television show News Radio, the boss, played by Stephen Root, was named Jimmy James. He wrote a book called Jimmy James: Capitalist Lion Tamer. The book was translated into Japanese and then re-translated back into English, and the translated title was Jimmy James: Macho Business Donkey Wrangler. So, when I read the term re-imported, my mind went to Jimmy James’ book for whatever reason.


Aiko Importers, Inc. is located in Pendergrass, Georgia (although the bottle states Charleston, South Carolina). Its portfolio includes a lot of fruity adult beverages ranging from vodka to wine to RTDs. They also carry various firearms-related decanter packages, including Lock & Load. There are three options: a 100ml bullet, a 1.75L bullpup, and a 1.75L carbine.


The 100ml bullet has a suggested retail price of $12.99. As you can tell from above, I paid far less. I can tell you that at $12.99, I probably would have said, This is cute, and then placed it back on the shelf. The Bourbon inside is 40% ABV (80°). There’s no indication of which MGP Bourbon mashbill was used.


Let’s #DrinkCurious and taste if this is seven bucks well-spent.


Appearance: I drank this Bourbon neat in my Glencairn glass. The liquid was bright yellow gold, and it possessed a thinner rim. A wavy curtain of tears fell back into the pool.


Nose: I smelled corn as I brought the whiskey to my face. I swirled the glass. I tilted it. I changed the angles of my nose, alternating from my left nostril to my right and back. All of that finagling and acrobatics rewarded me with an aroma of corn. I inhaled through my lips and tasted - wait for it - corn. Okay. No worries. Some good whiskeys have one-note bouquets. I can’t name any, but I’m sure they exist.


Palate: The mouthfeel was thick and coated my tongue. The front of my palate tasted of Corn Chex. The middle tasted of Corn Chex with a drop of vanilla. The back tasted of cinnamon and cardboard. For all I could tell, it could have been the box the Corn Chex came in.


Finish: As I mulled its cardboardishness, I frowned as the finish lingered.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I could wordsmith a few sentences here to tie everything up and provide you with my recommendation, but why bother? I don’t think I would even waste this on a cocktail. Whatever whiskey your local watering hole has on the rail is better than this. Lock & Load is why a Bust rating exists. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, January 25, 2023

O.H. Ingram River Aged Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


So many American distillers are trying to differentiate themselves from one another. Some do barrel finishing, some get creative with a mashbill, and play with char levels and barrel staves. Others include exposing the whiskey to artificial seasons, blasting music at the barrels, or sticking them on a boat.


There is one brand that is famous for aging whiskey on boats: Jefferson’s. Its Ocean range sends barrels around the world, with the idea that the rocking sea, stormy weather, and ocean air would impact the whiskey inside. I’ve reviewed AO Come Hell or High Water from Pilot House Distilling, which puts barrels on fishing vessels in the Pacific Northwest.


But I’ve never heard of aging whiskey in a rickhouse floating on the Mississippi River – until today.


About 150 years ago, O.H. Igram owned an Eau Claire, Wisconsin lumber company that sent logs down the Mississippi River. His grandson, O.H. “Hank,” expanded the family business to include river barges. Then, O.H. Ingram III came up with the idea of aging whiskey on barges and founded Brown Water Spirits in 2015. A year later, he experimented with his vision. In 2019, he obtained his DSP; the first-even one granted for a floating rickhouse; in 2020, the initial batches were ready.


O.H. Ingram attributes three things that make the process special:


Motion – Our whiskey works harder than any other. The motion of the river keep the whiskey inside our barrels constantly churning, exposing more liquid to the surface of the barrel where it extracts more flavor from the wood.

Temperature – Our whiskey experiences large diurnal shifts (the difference in temperature between daily highs and lows). The heat from the daytime sun causes the pores in the wood to expand and absorb more whiskey. At night, the river pulls the heat from the barge causing the pores to squeeze the whiskey back into the barrel along with the flavors it has extracted.

Humidity – the humidity from the river keeps our barrels moist. Aside from slowing down evaporation of the whiskey (known as the Angel’s Share), the sugars in our barrels do not dry out in the heat, keeping a nice molasses-like consistency. This allows the whiskey to better extract the flavors from the wood.”O.H. Ingram River Aged


O.H. Ingram River Aged’s portfolio includes a Straight Bourbon, a Straight Rye, a Straight American Whiskey, and a Flagship Bourbon. Today I’m sipping on the Straight Bourbon. It is distilled in Indiana utilizing the MGP/Ross & Squibb 51% corn/45% wheat/4% malted barley mashbill. It carries no age statement, which means there are at least four years of exposure to oak. Packaged at 52.5% ABV (105°), a 750ml bottle costs about $69.99.


Before I get to the #DrinkCurious part, I must thank Brown Water Spirits for providing me with a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it, shall we?


Appearance: I sipped this whiskey neat from my Glencairn glass. Inside, the liquid presented as deep chestnut and formed a thinner rim. That rim released wide, sticky tears that crawled back into the pool.


Nose: The aroma consisted of cherry, pear, freshly-sawn oak, and honeysuckle. When I drew the air into my mouth, I tasted lightly-toasted oak.


Palate: A thick, weighty texture crossed my lips and the front of my palate encountered cinnamon, vanilla, and orange rind. I found nut, honey, and apple flavors as the Bourbon moved to the middle. The back featured new leather, nutmeg, and toasted oak.


Finish: I first noticed how numb my hard palate became. There wasn’t any burn; it just numbed it like I visited the dentist. Leather, orange rind, and cinnamon spice remained to form a medium finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: O.H. Ingram River Aged Straight Bourbon is an unusual pour. I’ll embrace that the sleeping whiskey was impacted by life on the river, and this isn’t a gimmick. This Bourbon is so off-profile for MGP’s wheated mashbill. I liked it, but I am not in love with it. When the price is considered, I will toss a Bar rating at it. Cheers!  


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.


Saturday, December 31, 2022

Clyde May's Special Reserve 6-Year Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


The history of the Clyde May’s brand is rather tumultuous. It is named for Lewis Clyde May, a talented moonshiner from Alabama. He was a World War II Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient while serving in the Army’s 77th Infantry Division. He was a peanut farmer. He was also caught and convicted for illegally making his shine.


In 1998, Clyde’s son Kenny started the Conecuh Ridge Distillery in Troy, Alabama. Because distilling in Alabama was still illegal, the whiskey was sourced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (more popularly known as Willett). In 2004, the Alabama Senate passed a resolution making Conecuh Ridge Fine Alabama Whiskey the official spirit of the state, which was curious since it was illegal to distill!  The governor vetoed the resolution, and the House and Senate overrode the veto. Soon after, Kenny was arrested for selling alcohol without a license, selling alcohol to a minor, and possessing an “excess” amount of alcohol in a dry county.


If that’s not crazy enough, Conecuh Ridge Distillery lost its license to sell Alabama’s Official Spirit in Alabama! 


A holding group then purchased the brand, reorganized it in 2014, and called it Conecuh Ridge Distillery, Inc.  In 2017, the brand announced it would build a new distillery in Troy, slated to open in early 2023.


Today I’m exploring Clyde May’s Special Reserve, a 6-year Straight Bourbon distilled by MGP/Ross & Squibb, although the mashbill is undisclosed. This Bourbon is non-chill filtered and packaged at 110°. It should run in the neighborhood of $60.00.


“In 1946, before there was a craft whiskey boom, Clyde May revolutionized the art of whiskey making by crafting a unique style of whiskey we refer to as Alabama style. Clyde discovered that by using dried apples in the aging process, it resulted in a whiskey of unparalleled smoothness and richness. The ultimate sipping whiskey.


Back in the day, Clyde May gifted this select stock of barrels as a sign of respect to his close friends and lucky locals. Today we pay homage to Clyde and offer you our Special Reserve Straight Bourbon.”Conecuh Brands


Sixty-some-odd dollars for 110° six-year MGP Bourbon seems reasonable; of course, that’s assuming it tastes good. The only way that can be determined is to pour a glass and #DrinkCurious. Conecuh Brands generously provided me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s get to it!


Appearance: A neat pour in my Glencairn glass revealed a liquid the color of burnt umber. A medium rim released slow, sticky tears.


Nose: I smelled brown sugar, corn, cinnamon, and cherries. Despite allowing it to rest for about 20 minutes, there was still a punch of ethanol. When I brought the air into my mouth, molasses coated my tongue.


Palate: In contrast with the nose, there was no ethanol blast on my palate. An extremely oily mouthfeel introduced vanilla and caramel on the front. Raisin, black currant, and dark chocolate flavors were at the middle, while charred oak, cinnamon, and clove formed the back. 


Finish: I encountered a long, spicy finish of dark chocolate, cinnamon spice, clove, and barrel char. There was a kiss of caramel before everything fell off.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Clyde May’s Special Reserve is a Bourbon that drinks at its stated proof, if not a smidge higher. The spice notes became bolder as I continued to sip, and if I tasted this blind, I would swear to you that it was an American Rye. Overall, this whiskey doesn’t offer something to differentiate itself from other high-rye Bourbons. Is it priced reasonably? Yes. But it hasn’t crossed the threshold to a Bottle rating, so I recommend you try this one at a Bar first. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.