Review: Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

Charred Virgin Oak
>51% Corn; with Malt and Rye
Distiller Buffalo Trace (Frankfort, Kentucky)

At one time, the only bourbon named after someone who is presently alive. Sadly, Elmer T. Lee passed away in 2013, after working in the bourbon industry since the late 1940s. He was responsible for choosing the barrels going into this whisky, even up to the end of his life after he retired.

Elmer T. Lee was the master distiller of Buffalo Trace Distillery, and he is responsible for the single barrel craze – that is, whisky bottled from a single barrel without being blended with other barrels. He created Blanton’s, the first single barrel brand when he was asked to produce a premium product. Now, single barrel whiskies are produced all over – in Canadian whisky, American whisky, some Scotch whisky, and now some rums as well.

Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2012

  • Bottling Code: N/A

Nose: Apples come through – much like green ones that have lost their crispness and are a bit older. The nose has honey, apricot, moss, vanilla, pudding, orange peel, corn, dried apricot, some oak and some rye comes through as well. The flavours are deep. There are even some cherries and pineapples in the nose. It is wonderfully creamy, fruity, and earthy.

Taste: Comes in strongly with some heat and a touch of sweetness, followed by some oak and then some very nice butterscotch flavours. It’s complex and very enjoyable. Some of the rye seems to stand apart from the rest and is a bit dry, as if it’s not fully integrated, which is too bad – but this is a minor quibble and not a major one. However, there’s some lovely sweetness and vanilla throughout, and the “middle” of the whisky – rather than the first and last thing you taste – is quite complex. Very nicely done, with a few odd bits. Lots of pineapple!

Finish: The rye lingers for a bit, and there are some light spices and some creamy corn. Quite light after the big whisky. It’s fairly thick, and it takes some time before the flavours come out from the finish as it gets broken down – the mossy oak, the vanilla, the slight bit of rye. The texture and length is right – some more weight wouldn’t hurt.

Very well done and enjoyable – I really enjoy this. Very well put together and has great elements – creaminess, spice, complexity, and balance. It’s not always easy to find in Ontario but is quite nice when it comes around from time to time. It’s an easy one to pick up and share…and overall is pretty welcoming to all.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very high, at $44.