Sour Mash Manifesto

Bourbon and American Whiskey

Rest In Peace Elmer T. Lee

The whiskey world lost an icon today with the passing of Elmer T. Lee. While it may be arguable that Mr. Lee was responsible for pushing for the release of the first Single Barrel Bourbon in Blanton’s Single Barrel. What is not arguable is that Mr. Lee certainly deserves recognition for making Single Barrels more accessible to all of us. He made them popular by taking a risk that none were taking at the time. Eventually Elmer T. Lee got his own namesake bottle of Single Barrel bourbon produced at Buffalo Trace. I believe right up until very recently he was still hand selecting barrels for the ETL bottling.

For me, I will always remember Elmer T. Lee fondly for his namesake whiskey, and what it represented for me personally. This single barrel bourbon was the bourbon that ignited the flame of passion for me with regard to whiskey. I remember the first time I tasted it how harmonious it was, how drinkable, yet how complex the flavors were. To this day I enjoy the hell out of Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel, keeping a bottle on hand at all times. I have a beautifully engraved glass caraffe bottle at the office. Contained within is Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel for when the 4:30 hour calls. I will think fondly of him each time it does.

My sincerest condolences and prayers to Mr. Lee’s family. May he rest in peace.

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon Review


  1. Thanks to Jason, I ventured into SC and purchased a couple of bottles of Elmer T Lee a couple of months ago.i enjoyed them immensely and added that to my list of favorites. Thank you, Mr. Lee, for pioneering single barrel bourbons for those of us who appreciate them.

    I am headed to KY for my first trip to the distilleries. Buffalo Trace is at the top of my list and I will think of you as I learn more about your craft and your contributions. R.I.P.

  2. RIP Mr. Lee. I tip a glass to you Sir! A must for my cabinet for sure! Cheers!

  3. Jim Listerman

    July 16, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Rest In Peace……Elmer T. Lee

    Your namesake bourbon and your distillery amongst my favorites.

    Jim Listerman
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  4. RIP to a legend.

  5. Joseph Serapilio

    July 16, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    A great gentleman & an even better person has left us. So thankful for those barrel’s he picked for us over the years. He will be sorely missed.

  6. RIP Mr. Lee. You will be missed and always remembered when I a little Elmer.

  7. When I first fell in love with bourbon, ETL was one of the first few that really snagged me and helped mold my taste. I’ll be having a pour tonight for the man that lit a fire that fueled the bourbon renaissance in America. Have a safe journey, Elmer T.

  8. In the mid 80s, I stopped at a bar in Adamstown, Pa. (the Black Horse) and ordered a Booker’s, which I’d heard of but never seen before. The (gorgeous) woman behind the bar poured me one, and said that if I wanted a really good bourbon, I should try this new one…brandishing a Blanton’s bottle. I am forever in her (and Elmer’s) debt.

    The whiskey world will never be the same.

  9. D. Phillip Chandler

    July 18, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    RIP Mr. Lee. You finally get to sample the angel’s share you have been losing all these years!

  10. I never had the privilege of meeting him. But I read a number of articles about him. His Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Sour Mash Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is wonderful I just purchased 2 bottles yesterday. I feel it is reasonably price at around $28. A loss. Condolences to Mr. Lee’s family. Rest in peace

  11. What a huge loss. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I buy Elmer t Lee once a month and went to local store here in Kentucky and they were sold out and not sure if they were getting anymore? What does this mean for his Bourbon? Will Buffalo Trace still distill it? I really need some reassurance as its already a massive blow with his passing, if his bourbon is gone too that’ll be tragic. I’m hoping it still gets produced on the same level of availablity given that’d be the greatest tribute to mr Lee

  12. I loved bourbon as a college kid, but grew to be a wine guy when I moved to CA. Just this past May, I played hooky during a business trip to the Lexington area so I could extensively tour Buffalo Trace. I was so taken by the passion and care of everyone there, that I immediately became obsessed with renewing my love for bourbon (especially now that I could afford ‘real’ stuff instead of whatever was least expensive.) Discovering your blog, Jason, has literally changed my life along with the inspiration that Elmer T. Lee provided on that visit to BT: I learned that as recently as May, Mr. Lee came in at least once a week in his signature cap to say hello to the folks in the tasting room/gift shop…Well, I was moved to plunk down more $$$ than a bottle of ETL to bring home a replica of Elmer’s cap, the one Elmer wore everyday and is seen on the bottle; it was the signature “Elmer T. Lee” stitched tastefully on the back of the cap in matching thread color that inspired this emotional act.

    Believe it or not, since then, whenever I sit down with the latest Bourbon or other American Whisky that I acquire based on Jason’s articulate, balanced insights, I don my Elmer T. Lee cap, think of the man and his entreprise. Now that he will no longer be strolling the grounds of the KY River crossing (Trace) created by Buffalo, the cap and your writings seem even more precious. As D. Phillip Chandler so eloquently expressed: Enjoy the Angel’s Share, Mr. Lee…you deserve it!

  13. It was my first bottle of Elmer T Lee that lead me to this sight. I bought my first bottle of it as a bourbon hack and sat down at my computer to read a review with my first glass. It’s still one of my favorites.

  14. Vincent Falcone

    July 22, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    His namesake is one of the highest quality (and most reasonably priced) single barrel bourbons anywhere and the fact that he was still helping to select the barrels right up until death was incredible. I’m planning on visiting Buffalo Trace for the first time this week and just heard the news. RIP to a legend in the industry.

  15. A true loss indeed. I had fknally got around to.opening my ETL SB and it was very good, a surprise really. Buffalo Trace might not be the same without him. His knowledge was still being accessed, which meant there might have been more to share.

    Here’s hopong ETL will go on guiding the minds and hands of distillers through spirit.

  16. The boubon world lost a true legend and master brewer. Iam happy to say my little packing house in east texas keeps a case just for me in the back. rest in peace mr lee

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