The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2013

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Page 61 of 152

COVER STORY Home-Spun Holiday IN BIRMINGHAM AND BEYOND, CLYDE MAY'S ALABAMA STYLE WHISKEY INVITES YOU TO CELEBRATE by Kelly Merritt / photos by Becky Luigart-Stayner W hat's so hot about Alabama? Well, everything! Alabama has its share of American beauty, from the picturesque coastal town of Fairhope to Mobile to Montgomery. But Birmingham is riding a wave of gastronomic excellence that's so hot, it's become one of America's best culinary and cocktail destinations. Clyde May's Alabama Style Whiskey is making fabulous bedfellows in this Southern hub—marrying unusual flavors and conjuring the past in a glass. It's showing up in cozy holiday cocktails that taste like Christmas, and in more sultry versions that harken back to the decadence of 1920's Paris. For the original Clyde May, the illegal trade of whiskey-making—or what he called "branch farming"—became a way of life after he returned from serving his country in World War II. Farming his land wasn't enough to rear eight children, so May supplemented his income selling much of his whiskey unaged, straight from the still. As early as 1946, May sought a way to create a smoother whiskey aged for the holidays and eventually developed "Mr. Clyde's Special Reserve." Today's expression of Clyde May's is a six-year-old bourbon mash whiskey, handcrafted in small batches and finished in that Alabama style. It doesn't get more Southern than this. The Spirit of the Man: Sharing the People's Whiskey There is a work ethic and camaraderie among the Clyde May's skeleton staff. It is a David versus Goliath tale but in this version, Goliath isn't the bad guy—he's just a tall order. The sales team must push the boundaries of the brand past Alabama's borders for the Clyde May's legacy to survive. It's currently in 30 states and they hope to continue that momentum during the holiday season. Clyde May's National Sales and Marketing Director Jay Liddell and Regional Sales Manager Brian Chandler are working inclusively with the Birmingham chapter of the USBG (United States Bartender's Guild) and the state ABC Board. Their efforts have helped bring the two entities closer, something Batson says is critical to Birmingham's vibrant cocktail legacy. Clyde May sought a way to create a smooth whiskey, circa 1946. december 2013  /  the tasting panel  /  61 TP1213_034-63.indd 61 11/23/13 8:27 PM

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