Skip to main content

Review: Clyde May’s Slammin’ Alabama Bourbon

clyde may's
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Open up almost any book about whiskey in America and you’re bound to find at least a few tales of moonshiners who worked hard to create a quality product while constantly trying to evade the law.

Some moonshiners were successful, hiding their stills deep in the mountains or woods. Some weren’t so lucky. Clyde May, an Alabama moonshiner who was active from around the 1950s through the 1980s, was not one of the lucky ones. He ended up serving time for moonshining.

This is the story that Clyde May’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey starts with—a moonshiner whose motto was “It’s better to break a few laws than cut a few corners.” In his time, May handcrafted his own stills and worked with the best ingredients he could find.

Flash forward a few decades and, as a way of honoring his father’s memory, Kenny May created Clyde May’s whiskey, legally producing “Alabama Style” whiskey (a style created by his father and characterized by the addition of oven-dried apples to new barrels of bourbon).

Their latest release, Straight Bourbon Whiskey, is not given the “Alabama Style” treatment. Instead, it abides by all the laws that govern bourbon.

Nose: On the front, there are spice and vanilla notes. These are underpinned by oak and a hint of honeyed apples, despite there not being apples added to this whiskey.

Palate:  Caramel sweetness blends with dryer oaky notes. These dryer notes make me think of the term “Old School,” though trying to explain that, I admit to being at a loss. Vanilla and a little bit of peanut brittle come through and are followed by a hint of baking spice.

Finish: Medium length and fairly dry. Toffee and peanut notes mix with a little bit of black pepper.

Final Thoughts: Getting back to the idea of story, it takes a little time staring at the highly-stylized (and very aesthetically appealing) bottle to see that the bourbon is not distilled in Alabama, but is instead sourced from Kentucky and bottled by the Conecuh Ridge distillery, which is located in Florida. The idea of it being Alabama whiskey is a fabrication, but one that works to continue the story of the man it is named after. If story does not impact your perception of a spirit and you are merely looking for a good-tasting bourbon (and one, because of its 46% ABV that would do well in a cocktail), then this is a good place to start if you’re looking for a bourbon that’s not “from” Kentucky.

Clyde May’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey is 46% ABV and retails for around $50.

Editors' Recommendations

Sam Slaughter
Sam Slaughter was the Food and Drink Editor for The Manual. Born and raised in New Jersey, he’s called the South home for…
How to cancel HelloFresh temporarily or permanently
Learn how to cancel your HelloFresh subscription today
A HelloFresh meal kit next to a selection of vegetables

Meal kit delivery subscriptions, such as HelloFresh, can be extremely convenient. In fact, we consider HelloFresh to be one of the best meal kit delivery services. With HelloFresh, you can get weekly boxes filled with all the pre-portioned ingredients necessary to make healthy, unique, and varied recipes, along with the instructions and nutrition information for each recipe delivered right to your house. This eliminates the need for weekly menu planning and grocery shopping, plus it simplifies meal preparation, reduces food waste, and introduces you to new dishes and cooking techniques.

Read more
This is how to make a Bloody Bull – a better, beefier Bloody Mary recipe
Here's a different version of a Bloody Mary
Brennan's Bloody Bull.

Born in the great city of New Orleans, the Bloody Bull is the beefier cousin of the Bloody Mary. Treated to some meaty broth, the drink is super savory and begging to accompany your brunch plans.

The original hails from Brennan's, a colorful creole restaurant that's been on the scene since 1946. There are riffs of course, with bartenders treating the drink to everything from a bit of Guinness to a host of different spice blends.

Read more
The best sipping whiskeys, ranked
We ranked the best sipping whiskeys

It might seem like an oversimplification, but two kinds of whiskey exist. First are the whisk(e)ys that are cheaper, less mature, and better suited for mixing into your favorite cocktails than drinking on their own. The second kind of whiskey is so complex, nuanced, long-matured, and flavorful that it deserves to be sipped on the rocks or with a splash or two of water. The latter is what we’re most concerned with today.

But that’s not all. For those unaware, whiskey is an all-encompassing term for a variety of whisk(e)ys, including single malt Scotch whisky (only the US and Ireland use the ‘e’ in whiskey), bourbon whiskey, Irish whiskey, rye whiskey, Canadian whisky, Japanese whiskey, and others from all over the world. This means that you have a lot to choose from when it comes to sipping whiskeys.

Read more