Elmer T Lee Single Barrel Bourbon – Review

Elmer T Lee BottleBuffalo Trace makes a number of products with their #2 Bourbon mash. This mash is a little higher rye content than their #1, but the rye actually isn’t too assertive. #2 mash is thought to be around 13-15% rye and the #1 is somewhere just south of 10%, so not a huge flavor difference. It seems just a little more spice than the other branch of products. These Bourbons are said to age around 8-10 years, but have different flavor profiles. Difference between these drinks basically are the warehouse location and barrel selection. You would think with the same distillate, they would be pretty similar, but they’re surprisingly distinct. Unique, but basically members of the same family.

Elmer T Lee is my first stop on the #2 mash train future stops include Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farms, Hancock’s President’s Reserve, and Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star.

Elmer T Lee Background

Lee started with the company in 1949 as a maintenance engineer. The year after he retired, Buffalo Trace launched this Bourbon in 1986. Lee agreed they could use his name as long as he could personally selected the barrels. That sounds like a nice retirement. Lee continued to do so into his 90’s and there appears to be a plan in place to continue his legacy. He passed away last year at 93.

Lee’s favorite warehouses at Buffalo Trace are I and K and that’s where we generally get Elmer T Lee. This compares to Blanton’s, which come from Albert Blanton’s favorite Warehouse H, for example. Lee’s favorite drink is Elmer T Lee with 7 UP on ice, but here we’ll drink it neat.

Details

No age statement, but said to be aged 8-10 years. Rumored to use Buffalo Trace Mash #2 which is thought to be about 13-15% rye. It’s bottled at 45%. MSRP – $34.99 (2016 Price)

Aroma

Fruity with apple cider and honey. Caramel. Vanilla. Woody oak. I got a little bread/biscuit.

Flavor

Toasted oak, caramel. Rich vanilla. Some dark sugars – toffee maybe with brown sugar. Nice rye spice. Sweetness is there, but balanced. Finish I get more toasted oak and vanilla with some mild alcohol. Alcohol seems is on the edge of being solvent-like. Pretty nice overall.

Overall

This is great. I go back and forth a bit with Elmer T Lee and Blanton’s. Seems more flavorful, but Blanton’s seems more refined and lack the hint of fusel alcohol I get here. Right now I’d give Blanton’s an edge, but that could change with my mood. Very well done with some character, but no rough edges. As you pour glass after glass, the bourbon reveals a smiling Elmer T Lee from the inside. If I were in this bottle, I’d be smiling too. A great bourbon.

My price on this was $34, which seems a great deal for such a great whiskey. For the price, buy some and grab an extra to enjoy after that’s gone.

Elmer T Lee Rating

Buy Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Comments, corrections, suggestions?

Elmer T Lee Reference Links

Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon 2003 – Review

Evan Williams Single Barrel Background

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2003Info on Evan Williams Single Barrel according to Heaven Hill’s Evan Williams site: “Each year our Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam select barrels that meet their exacting standards. It’s a bourbon that is vintage dated, meaning each bottle is marked with the vintage date it was put into oak and the year it was bottled.”

The Evan Williams Single Barrel 2004 bottling has been released and is making its way through retail inventory. I haven’t seen it yet in Michigan, but I’m not exactly asking to pull down bottles to check. Since the new release is here, thought I should give the 2003 bottle some attention.

Details

Barreled: 2/28/03, Bottled: 10/26/13, Barrel: #989. Rumored to use Heaven Hill’s low mash 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley. 43.3%. Paid $30.

Nose

Caramel and vanilla. Corn, honey sweetness, oak, char. Perfume. Toffee, brown sugar. Fruity.

Flavor

Apples, oak, a little buttery. Cinnamon. Sweet. Light smokiness in the finish. Low to medium rye spiciness in the finish. Some alcohol warming.

Overview

There’s balance here. Seems dark sugars and vanilla with a good dose of oak. Hint of smoke is interesting in the finish. Everything seems held in check and nothing really jumps out. Just a well put together Bourbon. When you factor in the price, there’s even more to like.

Evan Williams Single Barrel Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0/5 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Evan Williams Single Barrel Links

Evan Williams Single Barrel
Drink Insider
Sour Mash Manifesto

Breckenridge Bourbon – Review

Breckenridge Bourbon Background

Breckenridge BourbonAs the name suggests this Breckenridge Bourbon is made at 9600 feet in Breckenridge, CO. The situation is murky about the source of the whiskey, whether it’s distilled by Breckenridge, sourced elsewhere, or a blend of the two. Or if the status has changed at some point. At one point they did blend in older whiskey, but apparently those days are over. Owner Bryan Nolt is quoted about this Bourbon: “Yes, we make the Bourbon in the bottle ourselves. Depending on the bottle, there could be some from a barrel distilled off-site to our specifications with our exact mash bill, yeast strain, and technique.” So, they distill it themselves, except when they don’t. What we do know is they promote the altitude of their operation and point out their local water source is supplied by snow melt.

The water source is interesting to me. Colorado’s water is generally pretty hard vs the moderate to soft water in Kentucky. Neither have much mineral, in particularly iron, so that’s a good thing, but the chemistry is still different. Water chemistry should affect flavors and pH. Colorado has good water for making beer, but what about cutting for whiskey?

Details

56% Corn, 38% Rye, 6% Barley. Bottled at 43%. Aged 2-6 years. $42.50 Shelf Price. (2016)

Aroma

Floral. Honey. Cinnamon. Apples. Caramel. Maybe a little vegetal, cream corn. Spicy. Charred Oak

Flavor

Spicy oak. Nice sweetness balanced with spiciness and a little astringent dryness. Flavorful. Soft mouthfeel. Creamy. Pretty smooth. Kind of a salty. It’s pleasant. Caramel and vanilla. Mildly warming. Finish kind of fades into medium spiciness and a little acrid note.

Overall

Breckenridge Bourbon is pretty nice drinker with a lot of flavor. Goes down easy. A couple times the finish turns me off a bit for some reason. Sweetness is balanced out by the ample rye spice and charred oak. It’s fairly refreshing drink. Seems bright and lively. Flavorful.

I enjoyed it, but not $43 enjoyed it. It’s not bad, but I can think of a few other high-rye Bourbons I’d rather drink for the price such as Four Roses Single Barrel. Nice, but just seems pricy for this whiskey experience.

Half of selling whiskey these days seem to be about storytelling and they’ve got a good story. I’m, however, unconvinced the snowmelt water and altitude adds to the product in the bottle, but it’s still a nice story. The water profile I think does reveal itself with a softer mouthfeel and a little saltiness. If you dig their story, give it a go, but otherwise you probably won’t miss much.

Breckenridge Bourbon Recommendation

Try a Glass – 2.5/5 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations. )

Buying Options

I like to offer some options for similar Bourbons around this price. Feel free to investigate other reviews for further research.

Some other high rye Bourbons worth checking out include Four Roses Small Batch, Ridgemont Reserve, Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year, Four Roses Single Barrel, Basil Hayden, and Bulleit 10 Year.

Breckenridge Bourbon Reference Links

Breckenridge Bourbon master distiller Jordan Via Interview 
Breckenridge Bourbon master distiller Jordan Via Interview
Breckenridge Bourbon owner Bryan Nolt (Comments)
Sku’s Recent Eats on Breakenridge Bourbon

High West Double Rye! – Review

Double Rye Background

High West Double Rye WhiskeyHigh West has made a name for themselves by blending sourced whiskey and here we get a blend of two ryes for Double Rye. Headed by former bio-chemist David Perkins, he decided to try his hand at distilling after visiting Kentucky for a wedding. After touring the Maker’s Mark operation he found his new passion. High West started distilling in 2007, but so far has made their bones blending, but they do distill some of their own juice. Along with some clear liquor products, they have an oat whiskey and an all-malt whiskey aging in barrels.

The idea here with Double Rye is to vat an older whiskey with more sugars from the barrel and corn mash to help balance out the more aggressive elements of the younger. The result shows off the young rye spice, but is still rounded with infused age.

Presentation is very attractive with rustic bottle and a big mushroom style cork on top. Wild, wild, west.

Details

Blend of 16 year old whiskey of 53% rye, 37% corn, and 10% barley; and 2 year old 95% rye, 5% barley. Bottled at 46%. Batch 13J04. Bottle 2130. $37 Shelf Price (2016).

Aroma

Pine and minty. Evergreen. Vanilla, Spicy. Menthol. Feisty is a good word. The young rye makes itself present. Brace yourself.

Flavor

Pine and mint carry through. Spicy, vanilla, grainy, raw rye. Some corn sweetness. Honey/Caramel. Finish is kind of buttery, vanilla, with pleasant warming and moderate spice. A smooth sipper. What a combo.

Overall

Whiskey dry hopped with rye. That’s how I’d describe Double Rye in a nutshell. This is pretty interesting with the assertive young rye backed by a more mature whiskey. Drinking Double Rye makes me interested in vatting whiskey. A great blend that’s fist full of rye, but highly drinkable. I’ve been impressed High West’s Rendezvous and Campfire, and I think I actually prefer this third, but Double Rye is keeping some good company.

I think for the price Double Rye is worth checking out and keeping around to share with friends. I might reach for the Rendezvous Rye more times than this, but this is a fun ride.

Double Rye Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3/5 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options

I like to offer some options for similar rye whiskey around this price. Feel free to investigate other reviews for further research.

Double Rye is a unique because it’s a blend of what I think of as the two categories of rye whiskey. To my tastes though, it’s probably closer to the high percentage rye, so I’ll probably lean that way. The mentioned Rendezvous Rye is a good, although quite a bit more expensive. Similar prices, Bulleit Rye, Redemption Rye, Old Scout Rye, and Templeton Rye are more in the same ballpark. Note that all these ryes share the same Indiana source and to me any way have pretty similar tastes. Double Rye is a step away with some older rye blended in.

Double Rye References & Reviews