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May: Conecuh Ridge brew will come from good stock

Features Editor

South Bullock and North Pike counties have a long and storied history in the moonshine business.

Many notorious moonshiners have come and gone from the branch heads. Some still linger – or so it’s said.

Among those men who did more moonlightin’ in white lightnin’ than anywhere on earth, was the late Clyde May. He was high ;y acclaimed for his production of "southern sippin’ whiskey," when it was served in inside, or "moonshine" when it was swigged out behind the barn.

Some residents said May made the best whiskey within the Conecuh Ridge region of Alabama and many times, it has been said, "I’d give my right arm for a jimmy-jug of Clyde May’s white lightnin’.

Come April 2, those folks can get their wish and without losing a limb.

Clyde May’s son, Kenny, is taking the family business one step farther. He’s going completely legit with it.

Conecuh Ridge Distillery Inc. has been formed to distribute and market whiskey.

"Eventually, my plans are to establish a distillery to produce small batch, select barrel ‘Southern sippin’ whiskey,’" May said. "The Conecuh Ridge brand will be marketed and promoted to capitalize on the popularity and reputation of my Daddy."

Until his death in 1990, Clyde May was known and sought for his good corn squeezin’s.

"The Conecuh Ridge will be marketed and sold as premium small batch, select barrel, Southern sippin’ whiskey steeped in the rich heritage of its central Alabama origin," May said. "Initially, we’ll purchase premium whiskey from a third party distillery, which will be sold under the company label and will be bottled and packaged according to the company’s directions."

Conecuh Ridge Company will provide bottles, caps and label of its own design, intended to be reminiscent of the Conecuh Ridge area and reflective of a high-quality, old-fashioned "Southern sippin’ whiskey."

"The label will probably depict my Daddy’s signature white oak barrels – the famed origin of the unique, smooth taste of his Conecuh Ridge moonshine," May said.

All liquor sales in Alabama are regulated by the Alabama

Alcoholic Beverage Commission (the ABC).

"The majority of retail liquor stores in Alabama are owned and operated by the ABC," May said. "So, the Conecuh Ridge company will only ship products to the ABC warehouse where it will remain until it is distributed to retail outlets, either ABC stores or private liquor stores operated under ABC regulations known as ‘package stores.”"

Eventually May said his plans are to build and operate a distillery within the Conecuh Ridge region which will produce its products.

"I would anticipate that the distillery will be designed as a destination point for visitors to take advantage of the notoriety of the area as it relates to the colorful history of moonshiners who ‘worked’ out of this region," May said. "Moonshiners in general ­ specifically my daddy, Clyde May."

A distillery would bring about 25 jobs to the area and between $3 and $4 million of capital would be invested in the county where the distillery is located.

As of January 2002, Conecuh Ridge Company is offering units of ownership to investors for $3 per share with a minimum of 500 units.

"A lot of people have shown an interest in ownership of Conecuh Ridge Company and we look forward to a bright future with this project," May said. "A distillery would be an attraction and there could be a lot of spin-off business from it. When it happens its going to be good economically for the area."