Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Review (2023 Edition)

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Legendary, stately, and familiar—these are how whiskey enthusiasts describe the eponymous bottle of Elmer T Lee bourbon.

Its bottles are elusive in the market, considering it is one of Buffalo Trace‘s quintessential bourbons.

Because of its current price tag, many believe it’s just a ‘hype.’ 

We’ll share the tell-all details of our Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon review. Take a look.

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon In-Depth Review

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Bottle on a Wooden Table

Elmer T Lee Single Barrel bourbon is one of the Buffalo Trace products produced in Frankfort, Kentucky—and like other Buffalo Trace spirits, this bourbon doesn’t carry an age statement.

Elmer T. Lee’s bourbon profile is perfectly dialed in with tons of flavor at 45% ABV.

Although it’s not a limited edition, it’s considered a highly sought-after single-barrel product. 

Quick Facts 

Distillery Buffalo Trace
Classification & Region Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Alcohol Proof 90-proof (45% ABV)
Mash Bill Mash Bill #2 (about 12-15% rye)
Age Statement NAS
Color Copper to rust 
Rating 3 stars
Average Price Around $199/750ml (Drizly)

What’s Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon?

This renowned bourbon is named after Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T Lee, who served Buffalo Trace Distillery for 36 years. 

He was a trendsetter in the bourbon world and used his taste standards to know how great bourbon should taste in making single-barrel bourbons.

Like Blanton’s, Ancient Age, and Rock Hill Farms, this Elmer T Lee bourbon whiskey is also made from Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #2 but is bottled at 90-proof.

Tasting Notes

Pouring Bottle of Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Glass


It has sweet but light aromas and smells lovely for its high alcohol content. The aromas of citrus, oak wood, vanilla, and honey are welcoming, with rye spice present on the nose.

Upon swirling, the scent of the dram transforms to a darker and richer aroma with added anise, cinnamon, and caramel flavors.


The palate has light to medium mouthfeel tasting notes. It is perfectly balanced with a hint of charred oak and dark fruit, vanilla, honey, and brown sugar flavors.

On the mid-palate, it has a slightly bitter note and releases more toasted almonds, baking spices, clove, and rye heat at moments.


This whiskey has a medium, dry finish with hints of oak tannins and a bitter note like orange peel but delivers a subtle light fruit aftertaste.

Uniqueness & Value

Elmer T Lee bourbon is one of the first expressions of single-barrels, next to Blanton’s.

It has an excellent brand reputation that impacts its elusiveness in the marketplace.

“Bourbon is really underpinning tourism.”

– Andrea Wilson, Michter’s Master of Maturation

Did you know? Elmer T Lee flagship released a ‘100 Year Tribute’ limited bottles to honor the late Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee. [1]

Why We Like It 

Close Up Shot of Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey Bottle Label
  • Surprisingly layered and balanced aroma. There’s a medium-body profile rich in sweet classic bourbon hints with a slightly bitter oak and moderate heat.
  • It mixes well with cocktails. It has the body and tastes neatly good at Glencairn glasses, but best to savor in any drink calling for bourbon.


  • Bit astringent at moments with a slightly unpleasant and off-putting bitterness profile.
  • It has a ‘hype’ bottle price. It’s too high for an almost more than $200 average price on the market.

Our Thoughts 

First Sip

Light on the sip and has the sweetness of dark fruits and a good rye heat balance. The alcohol stays in the mouth with a moderate burn.

Second Chance

There is some complexity in the tasting profile, and it delivers additional nuttiness with some bitter notes over the top.

What’s The Rating Of Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon?

We’re rating it a 3-STARS ‘mid-shelf’ bourbon. Not to mention its current value in the ‘whiskey world,’ it could be one of the best daily sipper options.

Also, it has a nice body that can stand up in any mixed drink or cocktail.

But at its current price point, we paid for the clout than the quality of this bourbon.

To Get Or Forget?

Bottle of Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon on Table

It’s a good bourbon whiskey that loads packs of flavor at 90-proof. But paying a three-figure range on the secondary market for these kinds of single-barrel offerings is like chasing the hype.

Here are some bourbon alternatives in case you missed Elmer T Lee bourbon:

  • Eagle Rare
  • Blanton’s 
  • EH Taylor, Jr. Small Batch
  • Hancock’s President’s Reserve
  • John J Bowman


What’s Elmer T. Lee single barrel bourbon’s secondary price?

Elmer T. Lee bourbon’s secondary price appears on store shelves for around $199 or more.

Does Costco sell Elmer T. Lee single barrel bourbon?

Yes, but not all Costco might have Elmer T Lee. It will still depend on the allocation of the distributors because of the three-tier system [2], and its availability may vary in your area.

To Sum It Up 

Whether it’s just the brand’s good reputation or hype, these bourbons’ taste alone is good.

But the sad reality is you will likely be buying this bourbon around the $200 range, or worst, more.

In this Elmer T. Lee review, we don’t recommend you go bankrupt just trying to track these bottles. You can try other affordable quality bourbons we listed above.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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