Review 026: Elmer T. Lee


Elmer T. Lee  |  45% ABV  |  $30

We’re back on the bourbon train here at AMR. After a short stint with single malt scotch we’re returning to American whiskey with Elmer T. Lee. ETL was created in 1985 after Mr. Lee retired from the Buffalo Trace distillery the previous year. ETL is a single barrel expression using Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2 (low corn). It was said that Mr. Lee was still handpicking which barrels went into his name sake whiskey. Impressive considering he was 93 at the time of his passing. This particular bottling was hand selected by the folks at Binny’s Beverage Depot and I’ve always found that if you have the option of getting hand picked barrels over standard go with the hand picked. The store’s that offer them usually have a keen eye for quality barrels. Now to try the single barrel named for the man who started the single barrel trend.

Appearance: Deep amber with thin slow moving legs

Nose: Very sweet and fruity. Lot’s of orange peel, hints grapefruit and some lemon zest. Followed by a heavy layer of vanilla and maple syrup. Behind all that the rye notes start to open up. Some cinnamon and faint hints of mint are in there as well. Picking up on some honey and ginger along with a fresh-cut grass aroma. As it continues to open up the maraschino cherries arrive as well as some leather, oak and black coffee. Very impressive.

Palate: Just like the bouquet lots of vanilla, caramel, honey and citrus fruits (rind). Mid palate a certain grassiness appears along with the rye. Towards the back the oak really takes hold as well as some bitter cocoa and orange rind. The finish is long with notes of oak, black coffee, dark chocolate, lemon zest and a nice sweet rush of more vanilla. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied.

Overall: What can I say another stellar BT bouquet very sweet very citrusy and with the complexity of a good quality spirit. Unfortunately I found palate falling just short. It just didn’t have the same complexity and balance that was showed in the bouquet. I the flavors I encounter seemed to be held together very delicately and there’s nothing wrong with that until the oak comes and throws that delicate bond into a tailspin. The finish is where it recoups offering a long slowly dissipating wheel of flavors. Good stuff but l know it can be better.

86 / * * * *



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