Elmer T. Lee was a legendary master distiller for Buffalo Trace. But he didn’t start as a legend. He was hired by Colonel Blanton in 1949 as a maintenance engineer after serving in World War II as a Radar Bombardier. He worked his way through the ranks until he was promoted to Master Distillery in the early 80s but soon retired in 1985. Lee was a key figure in resurrecting bourbon from the ashes of the 60s and 70s. One of his contributions was creating Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon in 1984.
Even after retirement, Elmer T. Lee served as Master Distiller emeritus. His namesake bourbon was created in 1986, and Lee hand-selected the barrels used for his namesake single barrel bourbon into his 90s. He passed in 2013 at the good, old age of 93-years-old. You will see below but Buffalo Trace has honored Elmer T. Lee with several limited releases bourbons under the ETL brand.
Below Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Harlen Wheatley does a tasting of Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon as well as discusses this bourbon legend’s life and legacy.
- Every Blanton’s Bourbon Reviewed
- Hancock’s Reserve Bourbon Review
- Stagg Jr. Barrel Proof Reviewed
- Eagle Rare Reviewed
- E.H. Taylor Small Batch Reviewed
Start shopping The Bourbon Bard’s Amazon store for bourbon barware, books, cigar accessories, clothing, and food for your whiskey journey.
Table of Contents
Every Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Reviewed
|ETL Single Barrel Bourbon||Facts|
|Mashbill||KY Corn, MN Rye, ND Malted Barley |
Buffalo Trace's #2 High-Rye Mashbill (Estimated 12 to 15% Rye)
|Off the Still||140 Proof|
|In the Barrel||125 Proof|
|In the Bottle||90 Proof|
|Barrel||New, White Oak |
#4 Alligator Char (55 Seconds)
|Barrel Maker||Independent Stave Co |
712 East Main
Lebanon, KY 40033
|Release Type||Single Barrel|
|Distillery||Buffalo Trace Distillery |
113 Great Buffalo Trace
Frankfort, KY 40601
|Pros||Love the Leather Notes|
|Cons||More Punchy Finish|
|Rating||Silver 92 out of 100 Points|
|Inventory||Buy It When You Can|
Nose – 92 out of 100 Points
Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon offers classic bourbon aromas of caramel, vanilla, and oak with the addition of wonderful leather notes. I’m a huge fan of leather notes with sweeter caramel and vanilla. It’s a combination I find quite a bit in older bourbons. If I could ETL at retail, it’s a bourbon I would drinking more of.
Taste – 92 out of 100 Points
The palate is perfectly balanced with sweeter caramel and vanilla and more savory charred oak, cinnamon, and musty leather. It’s a flavor profile I enjoy immensely.
Finish – 91 out of 100 Points
The finish is medium in length and more savory than the nose and palate. The sweet notes are more supporting actors and the leather, oak and baking spice take a step forward.
Complexity – 92 out of 100 Points
Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon offers solid complexity with layers of flavor that just work together without question.
Value – 93 out of 100 Points
I’m sticking with Buffalo Trace’s suggested retail of $40. At that price, Elmer T. Lee is a no-brainer. ETL’s value is tricky though. Is it worth the $150 to $200 I see at stores and online? Probably not.
Verdict – Silver 92 out of 100 Points
Elmer T. Lee 90 Proof Japanese Export (1993) Review
Nose – 99 out of 100 Points
Caramel and leather. Deep barrel char. Sometimes simplicity is just damn good. These are simple flavors with Mariana Trench depth.
Taste – 98 out of 100 Points
The caramel and leather come back to play on the palate with some added balance with baking spice. George Clinton and the Dusty Funk All-Stars show up to add that intangible goodness that dustyphiles love.
Finish – 97 out of 100 Points
The baking spice is the star of this medium finish with just a bit of white pepper and some brown sugar sweetness.
Verdict – Platinum 98 out of 100 Points
This 1993 dusty Elmer T. Lee has the same profile as the standard offering but the depth, complexity, and dusty funk rockets this Japanese Export into a completely different orbit.
Elmer T. Lee 100 Year Tribute Review
Elmer T. Lee 90th Birthday Edition Review
Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition is basically the same as the standard bottle, but bumped up an extra 1.5% alcohol to make it 93-proof in honor of Lee. Buffalo Trace did a similar special release to commemorate Lee’s 90th birthday, although that didn’t result in a proof change.
Elmer T. Lee Commemorative Bourbon (“Death Bottle”)
About Matty Sims
Written by Matty Sims
We may receive a commission at no cost to you for purchases made through our affiliate links.
Our bourbon release calendar and drop dates cover the annual cadence of major limited releases as well as new labels approved by the TTB — making bourbon hunting easy again. You may be asking, "What bourbon is releasing this week?" Well, new bourbon release dates are not an exact science. Not all...
The over $50 and under $100 bourbon whiskey category is where it gets interesting. There are some all-time great options available in this corner and many can be easily found. Some of my top choices include Booker’s bourbon and Four Roses Single Barrel Barrel Proof (SBBP). Booker’s batches...
The best bourbons under $50 list are where it gets interesting. In the under $30, there are some great mid to bottom shelf bourbon whiskeys but not many offer the complete package. Our top pick for the $50 and under does just that, so check out our best bourbon rankings for under $50. Related:...
Many people are returning to the best bourbons under $30 and are reminded of just how good they are. I love the thrill of the hunt and the premium bourbons as much as anyone, but a theme I’ve heard in bourbon groups and among bourbon aficionados is bourbon burnout. Flat out — these under $30...
Many will shake their heads and sigh over the best bourbons over $100 category — because most of these are unicorns for your average bourbon drinker. I’m going to include some no brainers like the Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, but you can’t have a complete list and especially not one with the best...
Smoke Wagon Bourbon was founded by Aaron Chepenik and Jonathan Hensleigh in 2012 as part of Nevada H&C Distilling Co. They source their bourbon from Midwest Grain Products of Indiana (MGPI) using MGPI's 36% high rye bourbon mashbill. Chepenik developed Smoke Wagon's mashbill and brand flavor...
You're here because you've been asking, "Which Weller bourbon is the best?" We've got you covered with reviews of every Weller in your Weller bourbon collection plus more. Some of you may be newer to bourbon and may just want to know the types of Weller bourbon. Experienced drinker or newer to the...
By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: The Bourbon Bard, PO Box 1501, Taylors, SC 29687, https://www.thebourbonbard.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email. Emails are sent by MailChimp.