Review: Elmer T. Lee

Elmer T. Lee does get shipped to Oklahoma, but somehow it has managed to evade us…until now. Good thing I’ve got friends in high places, well, geographically more north than me anyway. I ended up trading one of my paintings for this Bourbon and a couple of Cantillons. So, it’s quite the win/win situation. Thanks, Evan, you’re the best-est!

We’ve reviewed a ton of Buffalo Trace stuff if you’re interested in any of that.

And, here’s a little background on the Elmer T. Lee: He started working a Buffalo Trace after this infamous comment from Col. Albert B. Blanton, “Son, we’re not hiring any hands today.” Well, Lee went back a week later and was hired as a maintenance engineer and eventually worked his way up to Master Distiller. In 1984, Lee created a special single barrel bottle to honor Blanton, and eventually was honored with his own single barrel. This one. Let’s check this bad boy out.

Company: Sazerac

Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery

Location: Frankfort, KY

Mash Bill: Buffalo Trace Mash bill #2, which is the high rye mash bill. Bourbonr once again does an amazing job of breaking all that down for you.

Age: NAS

ABV: 45% (90 proof)

Released: Ongoing.

Price: Priceless!

Color: Honey golden blonde.

Nose: Floral, earthy, grassy, sweet cinnamon, brown sugar, and peppercorns. The upfront nose is so earthy and grassy to me with the sweetness coming in at the end. The longer it sits the heavier and sweeter it smells.

Taste: Tastes like it smells. Very earthy and sweet with cinnamon. It’s got some bitterness, a slightly sour flavor, but it’s nice. It’s lightly sweet almost like a slightly burned refined sugar sweetness. Like when you put just a teaspoon of white sugar in your coffee, that kind of burnt sweetness. (Side note: You should try brown sugar in your coffee cause that’s the bomb, y’all.) I digressed a bit there. Hello finish!

Finish: Medium finish that is slightly bitter and oaky. Lingers a bit but not too long and leaves your throat warm. Burnt sugar finish.

Overall: This has a lot of different flavors going on even though it leans more towards the bitter side for me, personally.  It’s still really good, I haven’t met a Bourbon I don’t like, well, except for Troy & Sons, but that may have been bad bottle.  It’s a great Bourbon for a fairly decent price and if you see it on a shelf don’t hesitate to buy it. Plus, the bottle has some hand grooves/dents on the side I really like. Nice to hold while pouring.

Moral of the story: Will trade art for booze. Oh, and Elmer is good. Cheers.

Rating: 4/5



5 thoughts on “Review: Elmer T. Lee

  1. BTW the link in your email notification doesn’t lead to this review, it gets a 404. (used “21” instead of “27” in the link.

  2. Nice review! This one has evaded me as well. However, I did pass on a bottle a few years ago and got a Stagg Jr. instead. Mistake? Maybe. If you are ever in Louisville, Proof on Main has a killer single barrel of this juice which is liquid Smarties. So good!

  3. I love brown sugar in my coffee and I’ve been reflexively buying every bottle of Elmer T. Lee I’ve come across over the past few years.

    It used to sell for $25 a bottle out here (San Francisco), but nowadays you’re lucky to find it for $50. I buy it anyways, but I wonder if there’s something else in that price range I should try instead

  4. I recently got of the newest batch. The serial number indicates a 2016 bottling. It’s a unicorn in my parts, lots of hype, etc. I share a lot of the tasting notes you do and for my nose/palate was not overly impressed. Bad batch? Mouth feel is thinner than I would expect, definitely leans bitter/sour oak, some spice but also some older leather and tobacco notes which are nice. Not sweet at all. I would give it a 3.5/5. I guess I expected more.

  5. I’m definitely in the minority to say that I haven’t loved Elmer T Lee. I worked through a bottle at home and I give it a solid “meh”. Agree with the bitterness that some folks taste. I’ve seen a lot more of this on shelves recently around DC, usually for around $45. I prefer the Rock Hill over this one at about the same price. But he sounded like a really cool dude.

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