Elmer T. Lee – Single Barrel Bourbon | 45 % (90 Proof), $35.00/bottle (BevMo) or Here
Color/Appearance: Amber. 8-10 years old in a newly charred American oak barrel provides a very nice color. Take a few minutes to view this amazing interview (link). This has a classic look to it. Nice bottle with the image of Elmer T. Lee showing through the back. I like the square squat bottle, unique but not pretentious. You have here a bottle in memory of one of the greatest names in American Bourbon. Of any of the greats of Bourbon he deserves his own bottle. Worked his way to the top from skill and hard work. Humble and honest, this is what it is all about. Take a taste of what he wanted to put in the bottle that would bear his name.
Nose: Spice, maple syrup, orange peel and pralines. It’s the Buffalo Trace high-rye mashbill, giving it a warm and lightly spicy character with a little oak and honey swirling around. Toffee, rye bread, vanilla cream soda and barrel char. Doesn’t Bourbon smell delicious? There is no need to explain why these smells appeal to you. Such a perfectly American beverage. Back porch of a house just down the street from the county fair on a summers day.
Palate: Such a complex Bourbon never went down so easily. Flavor matches the nose nicely with few surprises other than utter amazement at its general deliciousness and balance. All the spicy rye notes express themselves boldly but meld into one tasty caramel corn concoction. Yummy and delicious in all the right ways. Flavor is popping out all over with this one but always in service of the greater good. This is such a balanced and perfect Bourbon. The super high drinkability is really the only thing holding this Bourbon back from utter domination. Anything this easy to drink by definition can’t have the complexity necessary to take it to the top of the mountain. But I can be quite happy sipping this all day with the summit just off in the distance.
Finish: Longer in length with a clean fade, lingering spicy sweetness. After each sip you are left wanting more. Tasty and delicious. So compact with flavor. How does such a spicy rye tilted Bourbon end so smoothly? Quality is how. This is a quality product, in quality barrels, in a quality warehouse location. The only thing left in your mouth after this fades out is happiness.
Overall: Straightforward in profile this Bourbon sits right in the sweet spot. This is basically THE Bourbon. If you are hoping to seduce someone into the wonderful world of Bourbon, this is the gateway drug. This stuff will get them hooked. Father-in-law, hooked. Co-worker, hooked. Me, hooked. I will always have a bottle of this around. In the background of this blog I have been drinking quite a few Bourbons but I am very happy that this will be my first Bourbon review. This will not blow your socks off, but you will always want this Bourbon. What more could you ask? This is one of the many reasons why when Buffalo Trace is mentioned as the best distillery in the world there are not too many arguments otherwise. Elmer T. Lee is personally responsible for bringing the Bourbon renaissance to us. He was asked to create a single barrel Bourbon for the Japanese market and he created Blanton’s and with that one broad stroke the entire resurgence of Bourbon was born. Would be nice to see some more barrel information on the label or have another expression, cask-strength anyone? But that is really splitting hairs. Take a taste of this fine whiskey, named in his honor upon his retirement, and know that you have a true American classic in your hands. This is a Bourbon that you can use as a baseline for quality. So utterly drinkable yet so much flavor. Good luck holding onto a bottle of this. It will disappear before you know it. Buy another immediately.