We’ve done an event like this before, and we found that there is a lot of great American history and bourbon that doesn’t come from the famous bourbon making state, Kentucky. This month we had a special treat because a friend of mine shared a bottle of whiskey from a tiny distillery near him in Texas.

Clyde May’s Straight Bourbon 

Overall – 8.13/10 – burn – 6.5/10

(Specs) Age 4 to 5 years| 46% or 92 proof | 750 ML $36.95

(Distiller) Conecuh Ridge, location unspecified

(Value) Our club average value placed on this bottle was $43.37

(Flavors) Oaky***, caramel, smoke, char, sugar, pear, black tea*, brown sugar*, banana, peaches

(Notes) The history of this particular whiskey is the most interesting part, and some knowledge of the legend of Clyde May definitely increases anyone’s desire to try it. Made illegally in Alabama and riddled with run-ins with the American government even into the last decade, this is a real bootlegger whiskey. If I’m honest, it probably got a bump in the score of at least 1/10 points just for that.

All that isn’t to say this isn’t worth the price of the bottle. We described it as being, “Exactly bourbon,” something we’ve only ever said about I.W. Harper in the past. In other words, if you want to know what bourbon tastes like, drink this. The biggest difference is that it’s maybe a touch more complex in the flavor profile than I.W. Harper.

Uncle Nearest

Overall – 7.38/10 – burn – 7/10

(Specs) N/A| 50% or 100 proof | 750 ML $54.95

(Distiller) Uncle Nearest 1856, sourced from distilleries in Tennessee

(Value) Our club average value placed on this bottle was $43.37

(Flavors) Maple syrup**, peaty*, grape tannin, oak, smoke, apples, caramel

(Notes) This is another whiskey with a great story. The company was created recently in Portland, Oregon and uses Tennessee-sourced materials in their whiskey. It’s named after Nathan Green, who according to the legend, was the slave who taught Jack Daniels the process of making whiskey. The unique Tennessee-style requires filtering the distillate through a maple-wood char to create a fast-aging process and some really unique, complex flavors in the whiskey.

We felt that overall it wasn’t quite worth spending almost $55 a bottle on, but we were all very glad to have tried it. I felt that it was one of the most novel flavors I’ve ever experienced and personally disagreed with the rest of the club about the value. In any case, our club recommends that you try it if you come across it. We had a ton of trouble pinning down any flavors and putting words to this one.

Rebecca Creek

Overall – 4.25/10 – burn – 5.63/10

(Specs) Age (blended, up to 10-years)| 40% or 90 proof | 750 ML $20 (Texas Pricing, not available in Oregon yet)

(Distiller) Rebecca Creek, San Antonio, TX

(Value) Our club average value placed on this bottle was $33.75

(Flavors) sweet, river water, neutral, hints of vanilla

(Notes) Small distillers can have some trouble meeting the quality of bigger distillers because of limited resources and the crazy high cost of starting up. It’s pretty different from other craft products where quality tends to wane as the volume gets scaled up.

This is not a sipping whiskey. We don’t recommend drinking it neat or even on the rocks. On the other hand, if you can get a bottle of this for twenty bucks you should grab it. It’s an incredible whiskey to make an old-fashioned or a Manhattan with. It’s light, sweet, and for the cost it’s a competitive cocktail whiskey. We might compare it to a less flavorful Basil Hayden’s or a watered-down version of our own local Tatoosh whiskey.

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