Bourbon, America's spirit, has become increasingly popular among collectors. A cult following has formed among some of the best small batch or single barrel bottlings. Most famously, Buffalo Trace’s rare Pappy Van Winkle can only be purchased by way of lottery at your favorite retail store, or perhaps with the check that was destined for your mortgage payment. More value-oriented whiskey-lovers anxiously await the annual spring release of the Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel bottling, also from Buffalo Trace. For a mere $40, Bourbon collectors can enjoy the whiskey named after the former master distiller that passed in 2013. The word is catching on, as this year this whiskey sold off the shelves faster than you can say charred barrel. Perhaps rightfully so, as Elmer T. Lee was one of the first to market single barrel bottlings, as well as the mastermind behind Blanton’s. Will this be the next Van Winkle? I picked one up for myself to see if it was worth the hype.
Toasted cereal and white pepper on the nose suggests a high-rye mash bill. Pumpkin spice and agave aromas were inviting and sweet, yet balanced and soft. The whiskey has spent 12 years on the barrel, creating a mouthfeel that is remarkably pure and easy to enjoy. It finishes dry with flavors cinnamon, cedar and caramelized butternut squash. At 45% ABV, this is a lower proof bourbon, but the sensation is still warm and generous on the palate.
This Bourbon is a crowd-pleaser, both on palate and price. Even as a lower proof bourbon, I found its subtle sweetness to be sensational both in cocktails and served neat. For about the price of a tank of gas, a bottle of Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel will get every bit of your money's worth- if you can lay your hands on a bottle before it disappears!