Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition Feature

Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition – Review #28

Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition Background

Elmer T Lee Commemorative EditionElmer T Lee passed away last year at the age of 93 and Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition is a special release honoring him. His namesake Bourbon was launched in 1986 under the condition that Elmer could pick out the barrels. He reportedly did so into his 90’s.

Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition is basically the same as the standard bottle, but bumped up an extra 1.5% alcohol to make it 93-proof in honor of Lee. Buffalo Trace did a similar special release to commemorate Lee’s 90th birthday, although that didn’t result in a proof change.

This release is a one time deal and Buffalo Trace describes it as very limited.


No age statement. Buffalo Trace Mash #2 which is thought to be about 13-15% rye. It’s bottled at 46.5%. Paid $50, $35 MSRP.


Caramel with a touch of toffee. Fruity. A little corn. Vanilla. Some charred oak. Light spearmint. Baking spices with cinnamon and nutmeg.  


Caramel sweetness. Vanilla. Mild char with a little astringency drying out the sweetness. A little rye in there – getting some evergreen.


Side-by-side Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition is pretty similar to Elmer T Lee. Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition seems more interesting in the nose. Regular Elmer T Lee seems more about the caramel and has a bit of nail polish remover. I’m not getting those nice baking spices and rye note.

In flavor, Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition seems a bit more refined. Elmer T Lee to me shows a bit more fusel alcohols and is a touch bitter and acrid in aftertaste where Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition finishes cleaner. Don’t misinterpret this as much of a criticism, I’m just spitting hairs searching for differences.

The best reason to buy Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition I think is if you’re a fan and want simply own it. I don’t think it’s special enough to hunt down and empty store shelves. The differences between these two bottles are pretty subtle. It’s also important to note that we’re looking at single barrel products here and each batch is different. This bottle of Elmer T Lee is slightly different from the bottle I reviewed previously, for example.

This is a collectible and I think if you’re an Elmer T Lee fan it’s worth picking up. I prefer this bottle of Elmer T Lee Commemorative Edition slightly over the regular. Does that mean better barrel selection? Bumped up bottle proof? Or simply single barrel variations? Yes, no, donno.

If pricing is similar to a regular bottle, go ahead and pick it up. I think if it’s marked up with a premium, like my bottle, just know you’re basically paying for a special label of Elmer T Lee.


Buy Again – 4.5/5.0

(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.)