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Elmer T Lee Single Barrel

Pretty please, with a cherry on top

3 688

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

31st Aug 2020


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Single barrel offerings are usually a safe bet for the whiskey enthusiast. Distilleries are unlikely to bottle sub-par barrels for their single barrel offerings. That said, some single barrels are a bit outside the typical distillery profile, so if you don't like variety, SiB bourbons might not be your jam. Elmer T Lee bourbon is made from Buffalo Trace's number 2 mash bill which is rumoured to be 75%-78% corn, 12%-15% rye, and 10% malted barley. This is the same mash bill as the Blanton's line, but that line is also a single barrel brand so there will be differences. Age, warehouse location, and bottling proof will all play a role in any single barrel bourbon's final character. Elmer T. Lee bourbon is rumoured to be 12 years old, but no age statement is given on the label so take that with a grain of salt.

Tasting Notes

Neat from a Highland Whisky glass

  • Nose: dark cherries, blueberries, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, toasted oak, leather, a touch of corn oil
  • Palate: rich, oily, tons of dark cherries, cranberries, raisins, barrel char, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, powdered (icing) sugar
  • Finish: medium length, vanilla, oak, cocoa powder, nutmeg, a touch of tobacco
  • Thoughts: this is a fairly complex bourbon, although you have to work a little to get all the flavours and aromas as the cherries seem to dominate. It's rich and satisfying, like a dessert bourbon. There are no "off" notes. Elmer T Lee might be a victim of its own success, however, as bottles currently sell for ridiculous prices on the secondary market. I know, I know, a product is "worth" whatever people will pay for it. I believe I paid about $55 CAD for this and that's probably the most I'd pay for it. As recently as 2014, ETL was readily available and could be purchased for about $25-$30 USD or less, or so I'm told. These days, it often appears on store shelves (or the secondary market) in the US for $130-$150. Far be it for me to tell anyone what to do with their own money, but there's no way I'd pay that for this bourbon. It's good, but it's not THAT good.

  • Would I accept a glass if I was offered one? Absolutely.

  • Would I order this in a bar or pub? You betcha.
  • Would I buy another bottle? Only if the price was right.

Related Elmer T Lee reviews


Victor commented

@OdysseusUnbound thank you for a nice review. Elmer T. Lee used to select all the barrels himself for this bourbon. He chose the ones he called "the honey barrels". Clearly he was looking for a strong sweet component.

Such a nice bourbon. I remember fondly, back around 2011, before the madness struck and all Buffalo Trace products became allocated, being able to pick up 3, or 4, or 5 of these off the shelf just up the street from where I lived, for about $ 25 per. Plus ca change.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@Victor $25 USD would be about $32-$35 CAD, and at that price this bourbon would be an absolute steal ! Even at $45-$50 it would be worth keeping a bottle around. But current secondary prices are just madness.

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

Victor commented

Elmer T. Lee Sngle Barrel Bourbon $ 320 USD average world asking price on wine-searcher.com. No, I would not be paying that. ET Lee would be a great $ 50 bourbon.

The trick is to identify quality before the larger public bids up the price. In 2010-2011 people may have questioned why I was buying and storing extra bottles of commonly available whiskeys that I thought were of top quality. Now they know why.

3 years ago 2Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@Victor I was fortunate that many here alerted me to Weller Antique 107’s impending price increase. I purchased 6 bottles at $36 before they replaced the serviceable screw cap with a $29 cork stopper. Although even at $64, OWA seems to be a steal these days with secondary being what it is ($150 USD or more in many markets).

3 years ago 1Who liked this?

Nozinan commented

@Victor Getting a jump on price hikes is not easy, now-a-days. More often it's going into a store where the bottles have been there a long time and the owner hasn't identified that he/she could charge more, as with the $73 Mac CS we found in 2014.

I entered the ring almost 10 years ago, just as the current bubble started to form, and so by the time I knew what I was doing most of those ships had sailed.

Now it gets harder to buy great whisky on a modest budget. But anyone who wants to taste great whisky for free just needs to visit me...

3 years ago 3Who liked this?

casualtorture commented

People in Tennessee would fight to the death to buy ETL at that price haha

3 years ago 3Who liked this?

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