Libation Review: Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Distillery: Buffalo Trace

Mash Bill: Corn (Min. 51%), Rye, Barley

ABV: 45% (90 Proof)

In 1949, after serving in the United States Army, Elmer T. Lee paid a visit to the George Stagg Distillery in search of employment. Elmer was met by Col. Albert B. Blanton, President of George Stagg Distillery at the time, who spoke the famous line to Elmer, “Son, we’re not hiring any hands today.” Luckily for Elmer, Orville Schupp, who was the Supervising Engineer at the time, insisted that Elmer come to work that week, and so began Elmer T. Lee’s ascent to becoming the first Master Distiller of the George Stagg Distillery.

Now onto the bourbon….

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Review 2

Elmer T. Lee bourbon, named after the late Master Distiller of Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort , KY, is one of those diamonds in the rough, often overlooked by many, but is treasured by those who discover it. It is a single barrel bourbon which is aged for approx. 9 years, (although this number varies as Elmer would make the decision as to when the bourbon was ready).

Appearance: The bottle of Elmer T. Lee bourbon is quite beautiful; square in shape with concave sides, a portrait of Elmer T. Lee on the back which is visible in the front through the bourbon, and capped off with a gold seal on the top. The bourbon itself has a rich garnet color to it in the bottle and gives off a wonderful gold hue in the glass.

Aroma: The bourbon gives off a bold yet well balanced aroma of butterscotch, oak, leather and subtle apricot notes.

Flavor (Neat): The Elmer T. Lee shines through with flavors of dried red fruit, pepper, toasted oak and coffee with vanilla and leather on the finish. There is a pleasantly mild warmth as it goes down which one may not expect for bourbon of this age.

Flavor (W/Splash of Water): After adding approx. 1ml of water and allowing the bourbon to aerate for a few minutes, there is not much change; however, some honey notes do become apparent and the vanilla seems to become slightly more prominent on the finish. I do not feel that it is necessary to add water to this bourbon as it was very good on its own.

Overall Impression: In all, the Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon was very enjoyable. It had both depth and complexity in aroma and flavor as well as great presentation and price point (≈$25). It is no surprise that it won a gold medal in the 2014 International Wine & Spirits Competition.

Elmer T. Lee officially retired from Buffalo Trace Distillery in 1985 and passed away on July 16, 2013 at the age of 93. Since his passing, Elmer T. Lee bourbon has become quite scarce; however, Buffalo Trace Distillery has released a commemorative edition of the Elmer T. Lee bourbon. If you do manage to find a bottle of the original Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel bourbon, enjoy it and savor it in honor of one of the greatest men in the bourbon industry.


About Maxwell 45 Articles
My name is Maxwell, I am the Managing Editor here at The Cigar Nut and I reside in Las Vegas, Nevada where I’ve spent most of my life. I’ve been smoking cigars for the past six years and it has become a deep passion of mine. For me, smoking cigars is not a hobby, but an adventure filled with experiences; each cigar its own experience to create such an adventure, both pleasant and sometimes not so much, but an adventure nonetheless. I have been blessed enough in the past years to work alongside rollers from Cohiba, blenders from Padron and manufacturers both large and small to learn more and better understand the world of cigars. Although I do have some personal favorites, I love trying new and unique cigars from every part of the world. My hope is that I can share my experiences with you throughout this beautiful adventure that we share in enjoying cigars. Cheers, my friends!

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