Tonight, I visited a bottle that’s been on my shelf a little while – A bottle of Buffalo Trace, with a special twist: the Elmer T Lee Collectors Edition.
A few years ago, my sisters found themselves in Kentucky and, while there, took a tour of the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Neither of my sisters are bourbon afficionados (or even really like it), but knowing I am, brought me back some gifts. Among them was this bottle.
At the time, it was my understanding, the barrels these bottles were from were still hand picked by Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T Lee, godfather of the Single Barrel bourbon. Mr. Lee, who passed away this year at the age of 93, was calling the shots at Buffalo Trace (then still the Stagg Distillery) in 1985 when he pushed for the launch of Blanton’s, birthed the single barrel craze and revolutionized the industry. Elmer was renowned for his palate and skill, so the thought that he still selected these bottles is enough for me to be enthusiastic.
Of course, I don’t know if he actually did. What I do know is that at the time my sisters procured the bottle for me, it was only available at the distillery itself and, having sampled it next to a regular bottle of Buffalo Trace, there are some, allbeit subtle, differences.
I like Buffalo Trace Bourbon. As a mass produced bourbon, I have preferred it to most of the others in it’s price range for everything other than pure sipping. I’ve used it in cooking, in cocktails, in baking, and straight. It’s not my choice for sitting back with a glass neat or on the rocks, but it certainly is a great product. This particular bottle is a touch better.
My take: right from the get go, the color is a deep yellow-amber, darker than many others. The nose opened up with corn, vanilla, and a sort of baking spices that made me think of rum or even fruitcake. It wasn’t extremely strong in scent, but was pleasant enough.
It sipped a bit on the thin side, with a pop of pepper and spices. There were tastes of orange peel, and I noted cinnamon, all spice and while I didn’t feel it was thick or had great mouth coat, it didn’t feel empty.
The finish was long and had both the sprite sparkle of cinnamon, but also a nice radiating warmth that lasted for some time.
A quality selection, and a good one to toast to Mr. Lee.
Dan’s scale (1-10): 7.9