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Sweet Sippin': Conecuh Ridge


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The best things in life are bought by the side of the road. Georgia peaches, Tupelo

honey, rock shrimp, shark steaks, boiled peanuts... they all have character. Local

flavour. They might not be the cleanest, or the nicest looking, but somebody loves

them enough and believes in them enough to go to all the trouble of gettin' some

together and settin' by the side of the road and tryin' to sell 'em. I've been told

that a while back, you used to could add Clyde May's Christmas Whiskey to

that list, although he probably didn't set up a roadside stand.

Mmmmm... boiled peanuts. Oops, sorry about that. Back to the subject

at hand.

Clyde May's Conecuh Ridge Whiskey

Batch #001

45% Alcohol / 90 Proof

"Whiskey Distilled from Bourbon Mash"

Bottle: fairly square, with a screw top. I can respect a screw top. Foil

over the top in orange. A fairly nice looking label, perhaps a bit busy.

Color: a nice light amber, a lot like iced tea. The orange label makes the whiskey

look a bit orange.

Nose: a little spirity, but not harsh by any means. Graham crackers. Graham

crackers??!!! Light brown sugar. At times a bit of violets, a bit orangey.

Hints of alcohol... what most people would recognize as an isopropyl alcohol

aroma, but not much of it, really. The nose overall is... mouth watering!

Taste: You know, I really wish there were a more sophisticated word

for "yummy". 'Cause this is just plain yummy. Drink Me! Drink Me!

A word to the wise: when you pour yourself some, pour it in small amounts,

becuase you'll be hearing "Pour some more!" and "Have another!" when you

get to the bottom of the glass. If you only pour yourself small glasses, you

can give in to temptation much more often.

Let me try again.

Taste: Now the graham crackers really hit. Wow! A taste that you just can't

get anywhere else. Surges of plummy/grapey notes that you'll recognize

from young whiskey. Hints of that pretentious licorice you tried that one time.

Sometimes a touch rubbery. Mostly light brown sugar, graham crackers, and

plums. And a bit orangey. Oh, and corn cobs every now and then. Overall, the

flavours mix quite well... rather complex, and well rounded.

Finish: refreshing. Makes you want to drink more. I'm a big fan of long finishes,

and I'm genearlly disappointed when I don't get one... well, I didn't get one,

but I'm not disappointed. It leaves a sweet taste in the mouth.

Overall:

It's aged in used barrels,sto the barrel doesn't dominate the taste. It's about

time someone made a "bourbon" in used barrels, becuase there's a lot of

beauty in there that the barrel often hides! Conecuh is definitey on the lighter

side: it's not going to run you over and leave you in the ditch with so much

flavor you don't know what to do with yourself.

Surprisingly enough, it's not harsh, either. It's not "hot" like I feared that

it might be. It's just: sweet. Very approachable. Sorta like rum, but with

new dimensions added. It's got rum's sweetness, but whisky's

rounder, more grainy/cereal-ish-ness.

Personally, I think that this is the future of American Whiskey.

Right here.

You tasted it here first.

This is a side of "bourbon" that definitey needs more exploring.

Tim Dellinger

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Thanks for the notes Tim. I've been waiting on an online site to get this in since January! You made my wait even more frustrating now, as I can't wait to get my hands on a bottle to try! wink.gif

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I spend enough money on bourbon. I don't need another category of whiskey to explore! crazy.gif But, after reading your review of Conecuh and having me help you obtain a couple bottles of legit WV 'shine, I am getting downright curious. Hurry up with those WV 'shine tasting notes. tongue.gif

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cornsqueezins

Enjoyed your tasting notes, Tim. This stuff has it's own style and is WAY too easy to drink! The nose doesn't follow through into the taste as strongly as I would like but maybe I'm subconsciously seeking barrel complexities which, as you reminded us, are not there.

-Troy

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  • 10 months later...

Well, almost a year after waiting to get one of these bottles, I finally got some a few weeks ago. I recently had the chance to open one and let me tell you, this stuff is good. I found it very similar to Michter's US1 Unblended American Whiskey, but in all honesty even better. The Conecuh Ridge had less bite, it was much smoother and the flavors were a bit more rounded. Two very distinct flavors that I noticed right away were corn and a sugary sweetness almost like that in honey. If you're looking for something different from your everyday pour of bourbon, give these american whiskies from Michter’s and especially Conecuh Ridge a try. Just be warned, from my experience, you will either love them or hate them. Others I know have loved them so much they went out and got 2nd bottles and others finished their glass in disappointment.

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> Just be warned, from my experience, you will either love them or hate them.

> Others I know have loved them so much they went out and got 2nd bottles and

> others finished their glass in disappointment.

I've also heard very polarized comments... some people hate the stuff and

have to decide how polite they need to be!

It's nice to hear that other StraightBourbonites are enjoying it. I did go

out on a limb a little bit by posting my tasting notes.... it's not like

posting notes on, say, WT Russell's Reserve, where you know that people

are more or less going to agree with almost any positive review.

Tim Dellinger

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  • 4 weeks later...

See that's interesting, thanks Mark. I wonder what accounts for the sweetness. Presumably it does not come from the barrels, which must have given up their red layer sweetness to the contents previously held. "Plain" wood would impart some residual sweetness, but not that much, I think. Could sugar possibly be added to these products? If not, I guess sweetness is inherent in "bourbon mash" distillate. (But how does sucrose/maltose get over with the alcohol into the condensate??).

In any case, the burned wood taste from the charcoal layer is missing - that level of complexity is not there. Sounds like an analogy to a comparison between unpeated and peated single malt whisky is apt..

Gary

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There is a certain amount of sweetness in the unaged distillate,

e.g. my tasing notes for Mountain Moonshine ("Sweet Sippin' II").

Some scotches that are aged ex-bourbon barrles also show a great deal

of sweetness, but you're right, the 'character' of the sweetness is

different than that of bourbon. Sometimes it's called "malty sweetness"

in scotches, but I think some of the toasty flavors from the malt

might be combining with these sweet notes (of unknown origin!) to

give the impression of maltyness.

Could sugar be added????? Them's fightin' words! Whisk(e)y is grain

and water and yeast and wood and that's all!

Could sugar come over during distaillation? I hadn't thought about this,

but I suppose it could. Larger molecules than sugars definintely make

it over: plenty of fatty acid derivatives, etc.

I still haven't pinned down the sources of the various types of sweetness

in whiskies... it's a very interesting question! I think the search

for answers is going to require a lot of drinking...

Tim Dellinger

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> I wonder what accounts for the sweetness. Presumably it does not come from

> the barrels, which must have given up their red layer sweetness to the contents

> previously held. "Plain" wood would impart some residual sweetness, but not

> that much, I think.

Just a quick note on barrel chemistry:

About 25% of American oak is hemicellulose, which is basically big long

chains of sugars. One way to break these up is with heat, which is one

of the effects of charring. But there are other ways of breaking up

hemicellulose... hydrolysis (i.e. reaction with water) is one of the

reactions that occurs during aging. So the barrel is constantly

"dissolving" and turning into sugars over the years. Although

charring makes a bunch of sugar real quick, just because that particular

sugar is gone (i.e. after the barrel has been used once) doesn't mean

that there isn't more in the barrel waitin' to come out.

As to how all this changes the subtle nuances of what we call "sweet"...

that's still a mystery to me.

Tim Dellinger

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Thanks Tim, most interesting. I think a charred barrel will as you say impart a sweetness quality faster, but it will also lend a slightly burned taste to the spirit, a defining flavour in bourbon. Whiskeys, from whatever kind of mash and distilled to however low a proof, can't acquire that taste from reused barrels. That is why, I believe, only bourbon can lay claim to being America's premier whiskey style.

Gary

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  • 1 month later...

I tasted the Conecuh Ridge for the first time today. Sales rep brought it by as a tease of an item they are considering selling in NY. I agree that it is better than Michter's. I found it quite pleasant. Nose has a lot of butter, graham cracker goodness to it. Package is a bit of a shelf hog. Maybe the link to Alabama hit a soft spot with this ole country gal, but I rather liked it.

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  • 2 months later...
drew_kulsveen

It's funny that you mention it. We produce for Michter's and Conecuh Ridge. They are both great whiskeys.

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Any distribution of Conecuh Ridge in Ky? Any in the foreseeable future?

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drew_kulsveen

Not yet. I think the brand owner, Kenny May, wants to keep it an Alabama tradition, it makes it more exclusive that way. He will be visiting us in a couple of weeks, I can ask him about it.

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how do they get their unique flavors? Is something added to the barrel,or before bottling? We don't need any trade secrets just the general idea

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