Thursday, October 10, 2019

Clyde May's Special Reserve Alabama Style Whiskey

- $60
- 110 Proof
- Kentucky

This is one of those whiskeys that I've decided to give a second chance.  I've had the regular Clyde May's before, and from what I recall, I got a lot of cinnamon red hots and green apple Jolly Rancher notes out of it. My main takeaway from back then was that it had a certain artificial taste to it that was a bit off-putting. My research tells me that this is a Kentucky whiskey that is bottled in Florida, but finished "Alabama Style," which I gather means finished on apples. The flavor back then did not come across as fresh apple to me.

However, that was a number of years ago, and my palate and experiences have changed, and in some ways the whiskey has changed. After all, this particular bottling, the Special Reserve, is bottled at a much higher proof at 110 proof, which in an of itself can make a significant difference. After reading others' approval of the Special Reserve in various online media, I decided to give this another chance. Plus I feel like it's been a while since I've reviewed something that's not a store pick or a limited release.

On the nose I immediately noticed the scent of apple. However, despite my expectations and, dare I say, bias, it wasn't the artificial or Jolly Rancher-esque aroma I had anticipated. Rather it came across as natural, with a sweet yet bitter quality that reminded me of Granny Smith apples (my favorite kind of apple, for what it's worth). I also got a lot of caramel that made this really seem like a sweet fall treat, like I was at the pumpkin patch with the kids getting ready for Halloween.

As for the taste, and while it's not much of a tasting note, it's worth starting with the fact that I thought it had really good flavor, and that the proof helped a lot. Rather than the prominent caramel, it had more of a vanilla-based flavor profile. It was only later that the apple really came forward, and again it came across as more of fresh apple rather than artificial apple.

I also never really got the cinnamon that seemed to jump out at me when I had the regular Clyde May's. Rather it was just a whole lot of vanilla with that sweet but bitter Granny Smith apple mixed in.  On later pours I seemed to get a certain breadiness, kind of a sweet white bread flavor that developed, and while it may initially seem odd, it really kind of worked.

It came across as a touch syrupy in texture, though it wasn't overly sweet. I did find that I enjoyed it more over ice than neat, and it made for a great front porch drink on a sunny day, particularly after mowing the lawn.  In that respect, while this isn't the next Pappy Van Winkle, and I don't expect that Alabama Style will be something offered by the likes of Beam or Wild Turkey any time soon, I think this whiskey was very tasty, certainly hit the right chords in certain situations, and would absolutely have a place on my shelf.

Grade: B

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