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Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Review (2024 Edition)

Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Last Updated on March 8, 2024 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 

DistilleryBuffalo Trace
Classification & RegionBourbon, Kentucky, USA
Alcohol Proof90-proof (45% ABV)
Mash BillMash Bill #2 (about 12-15% rye)
Age StatementNAS
ColorCopper to rust 
Rating3 stars
Average PriceAround $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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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.

What does Elmer T. Lee bourbon taste like?

Elmer T. Lee bourbon is celebrated for its well-balanced and approachable flavor profile. This bourbon, produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery, is known for its smoothness, showcasing notes of caramel, vanilla, and a hint of spice. It offers a harmonious blend of sweetness and complexity, making it a favorite among bourbon enthusiasts.

How long is Elmer T. Lee bourbon aged?

Elmer T. Lee bourbon, like many premium bourbons, undergoes aging for a significant period to develop its character. However, specific aging details, such as the exact number of years, are not typically disclosed on the label.

The bourbon is crafted with the distillery’s commitment to quality and tradition, allowing it to mature until it reaches the desired level of richness and depth.

Where is Elmer T. Lee bourbon made?

Elmer T. Lee bourbon is made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, located in Frankfort, Kentucky. Buffalo Trace has a storied history in bourbon production, dating back to the 18th century, and is renowned for its commitment to craftsmanship and the creation of a diverse range of high-quality whiskies.

What proof is Elmer T. Lee bourbon?

Elmer T. Lee bourbon is typically bottled at a proof of 90. This proof level strikes a balance, allowing the flavors of the bourbon to shine without an overwhelming alcohol heat.

The moderate proof contributes to the smooth and approachable nature of Elmer T. Lee bourbon, making it an appealing choice for both seasoned bourbon connoisseurs and those new to the world of premium whiskies.

What bourbon is John Wick drinking?

In the John Wick film series, the character John Wick, portrayed by Keanu Reeves, is often seen enjoying Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon.

Blanton’s, known for its smoothness, rich flavor, and distinctive bottle design, is a highly regarded bourbon that has gained popularity, in part, due to its association with the iconic scenes in the movies.

Is bourbon sweet or sour?

Bourbon typically exhibits a range of flavors, and its taste profile is not strictly categorized as sweet or sour. Instead, bourbon is known for its complex flavor profile that may include notes of caramel, vanilla, spice, and sometimes a hint of fruit.

The sweetness in bourbon often comes from the caramelization of sugars during the aging process in charred oak barrels, while any perceived sourness is usually minimal and can be influenced by factors like the mash bill and fermentation.

How long is single barrel bourbon aged?

The aging duration of single barrel bourbon can vary, and it is not strictly defined by a specific time frame.

Single barrel bourbons, by definition, are bottled from a single cask, and the aging process depends on factors such as the desired flavor profile, climate conditions, and the distiller’s preferences.

While some single barrel bourbons may be aged for around four to six years, others, especially premium releases, can be aged for a decade or more, resulting in a richer and more complex spirit.

What is the difference between Blanton’s and Elmer T. Lee?

Blanton’s and Elmer T. Lee are both premium bourbons produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery, but they have distinct characteristics. Blanton’s is known for its single barrel releases, distinctive horse stopper, and a slightly higher proof, typically around 93 proof.

It offers a rich and complex flavor profile with notes of caramel, citrus, and spice. On the other hand, Elmer T. Lee, named after the former master distiller, is also a single barrel bourbon but is typically bottled at 90 proof.

It is celebrated for its smoothness, harmonious balance, and notes of caramel, vanilla, and spice. While both bourbons share a commitment to quality and craftsmanship, the differences lie in their flavor profiles, proofs, and the unique characteristics associated with each expression.

Is longer-aged bourbon better?

The perception of whether longer-aged bourbon is better is subjective and depends on individual preferences. While extended aging allows bourbon to develop more complex flavors and characteristics, some enthusiasts appreciate the bold and robust qualities of younger bourbons.

Ultimately, the “better” bourbon is a matter of personal taste, and both shorter and longer-aged expressions have their dedicated followers.

What happened to Elmer T. Lee?

Elmer T. Lee, the legendary master distiller, passed away on July 16, 2013, at the age of 93. His contributions to the bourbon industry were immense, and he played a crucial role in shaping the success of Buffalo Trace Distillery.

The legacy of Elmer T. Lee lives on through the bourbons named in his honor, including the well-regarded Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon.

Where are the best bourbons made?

Bourbon is primarily associated with the United States, and the best bourbons are often made in Kentucky.

Kentucky, known as the bourbon capital of the world, is home to iconic distilleries such as Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve.

The state’s limestone-rich water, climate conditions, and a tradition of craftsmanship contribute to the production of some of the world’s finest bourbons.

Is Jack Daniel’s bourbon made in China?

No, Jack Daniel’s is not made in China. Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA. The distillery, registered with the U.S. government as the Jack Daniel Distillery, is known for its charcoal mellowing process, which distinguishes Tennessee whiskey from bourbon.

While Jack Daniel’s is a global brand with distribution in various countries, its production and origins remain firmly rooted in the United States.

The whiskey undergoes a specific production process that includes charcoal filtration through sugar maple charcoal, contributing to its smooth and distinctive taste.

To Sum It Up for Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Review

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.


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