Home DistilleriesBuffalo Trace Review: Elmer T. Lee

Review: Elmer T. Lee

by Chris Perugini

As we march forward into 2021, the entire fabric of day-to-day life is different for so many of us. From changes to how the world does business to our home lives to social gatherings and public events, we’ve all been set down a path that constitutes a new normal. When the world “shut down” in early 2020, I found myself wondering how it would effect both the availability and value of whiskey. One of the things I found most fascinating in this regard was the meteoric rise in secondary market value of a few select releases. Elmer T. Lee is one of those bottles.

Elmer T. Lee was the Master Distiller for what is now Buffalo Trace for almost four decades. As one of the first people to bring single barrel bourbon to the market, Lee helped eventually set forth a trend that has since permeated the American whiskey world. Eventually, he was honored by having a new single barrel bourbon named after him. This release uses Buffalo Trace’s Mashbill #2 which features 15% rye content compared to the low-rye Mashbill #1 used for many other Buffalo Trace bourbons. Coincidentally enough, another Buffalo Trace product using this same Mashbill #2 (Rock Hill Farms) has also skyrocketed in secondary value. Elmer T. Lee is bottled at 90 proof.

Photo by Whiskey Consensus
Elmer T. Lee - 45% ABV
Category Notes
Appearance Golden Amber
Nose Vanilla, allspice, black cherry, nutmeg, 2x4s.
Taste Plenty of baking spice, caramel, sweet corn, creme brûlée topping, new oak. Mouthfeel is a bit thin and there's not a ton of progression over time.
Finish Honey, stewed orchard fruits, more vanilla, pencil shavings, medium length. Cloves and hint of grape skin remain after a few seconds.
Overall Thoughts In short: it's decent. There's a nice balance of sweetness and spice here but this is a pretty underwhelming pour for anything more than retail pricing. If you paid more than $200 for a bottle based on perceived hype, I'm sorry to say that you are in for a huge disappointment in terms of value. This bourbon honors the great man that helped shape the bourbon industry we know today but it's simply not meant to be even remotely close to a luxury pour. Proceed with extreme caution if you see it for a hefty price.
Total Score 80/100

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