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If you’re not familiar with the legend of Elmer T. Lee, I suggest a quick Google search for bios and obits more colorful and detailed that what I could provide here. His eponymous whiskey was introduced after he had retired as Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace, although “retired” was a relative term in Mr. Lee’s case. I wish I was as active at 30 as he was at 90.
Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel has fast become my favorite bourbon in this price range, as well as slightly higher price ranges to boot. Add an extra point to my score if you want to take the bang-for-the-buck aspect into account. This is luscious stuff with a flavor balance like no other bourbon, yet which somehow manages to remain unmistakably bourbon. Bottle purchased three weeks ago, and I’ll be ready for a new one by this weekend.
Nose: Very nice in the first few minutes, exceptional in the next few. Caramel, honey, lavender, vanilla, oak, and pepper at first. Good stuff, but thin overall compared to the opened-up nose about five minutes later. It’s denser, more grounded, more textured, and a more chest-warming experience overall. The clean, pure vanilla now dominates, and some traces of cherries and wintergreen lurk in the corners.
Palate: A feather-light arrival and development with some delicious flavors nonetheless. Caramel cotton candy, if you can imagine such a thing. Lots of canned fruits, oak, vanilla, and pepper as well. A tasty assortment; I just wish it weren’t so tame.
Finish: Smooth and tame but sensational. There’s a pepper kick at first, but it quickly settles with some silky vanilla and quality oak wood. This is one of the best wood flavors I’ve ever had, and it’s the last thing to linger at the fadeout.
What great dimension in such an easy-sipper. Your palate and your wallet will hold up to a few drams of this per evening.