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.
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.