Tag Archives: single barrel

Elmer T. Lee

I bought this bottle in the same trip as last week’s Wathen’s and I can’t say it wasn’t because they use the same bottle.  Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel is named for the Master Distiller Emeritus of the Buffalo Trace distillery – supposedly having selected the barrels for this bottling himself.  This alone sets the expectations pretty high (especially considering the price), let’s see if it lives up.

elmertlee

Stats:

-$25ish

– Made by Buffalo Trace

– 90 proof

Presentation:

As previously noted, the bottle is the same fat-upright rectangle of the Wathen’s bottle with slight indents on the side for grips.  Elmer T. Lee, however accentuates the bourbon inside with a fully clear front label that contains on the the basic descriptive text.  Through the contents, one can see a line-portrait of an old man – one who I would guess to be Mr. Lee himself.

The back label has only a very short description, telling us that Mr. Lee has fifty years of experience and that he selected the bourbon for this bottle.  Nice and simple.

Tasting:

Sweet and smooth to the nose: grape juice, dried leaves, and a bit of pine resin.  Very pleasant.

On the tongue, that pine resin with a bit less of the dried leaves and a different sweetness – almost a tart blackberry.  ETL starts quiet, then bursts into a bright climax with that berriness, and smoothly descends into a medium strength vanilla finish.

Over all:

I could imagine I’ll reach for this with some frequency given the low price and high availability, traits that don’t often accompany a bourbon of this quality.  I’m not saying this is the best I’ve had, but it’s interesting enough, easy enough, and definitely tasty.

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Wathen’s Single Barrel

wathensWathen’s was a new one for me when I saw it on the shelf a few weeks ago.  I’d never even heard of this brand which claims to be the product of “whiskey’s royal family”.  A little digging on Google reveals a ten-year old string of postings on Straight Bourbon in which Chuck Cowdery and some others discuss the arrival of this new bourbon – so apparently I’m a bit late to the game.

Wathen’s seems to have an interesting and typically complicated (for bourbon) history as a brand, having been the result of distilleries being bought, sold, closed, and revived.  In the end however, we have Wathen’s on the shelf of a New York City liquor store, where I got my hands on a bottle from barrel number 841.

There is no age statement on this one with the exception of the statement of the bourbon-making family’s age (eight generations / 250 years).  This worries me a bit, not knowing what I’m getting into, but I’ll hope for the best.

Stats:

– $40ish

– Made by the Charles Medley Distillery

– 94 proof

Presentation:

Wathen’s comes in a rectangular bottle whose height is approximately twice the width – this gives it a slight squat look.  The sides are marked with indented grips, and the neck is short and thin.  The labels are made of a rough brown-paper-bag style material and adorned with the image of a barrel over which the name and family’s distinguished age is declared.  At the bottom is a short note from C. Medley himself, assuring the reader that the contents of the bottle are from a barrel which he himself has selected.

The bottle also includes an informational tag that’s filled with the familiar familial chest-puffing of bourbons.  We have here whiskey royal family, I’m led to believe.

Tasting:

On the nose it’s a soft, dry wheat and bananas for the most part.  There’s something of a burnt-pine deep at the center of it.  Also, while taking these whiffs, I can’t help but note the fine legs on this bourbon, I’m expecting a quite velvety texture here.

At first on the tongue, Wathen’s comes across with a crisp cherry, then oddly I get a bit of that dried/burnt pine sensation going on in the background.  There’s a touch of that banana there as well, but very slight compared with the scent.  The finish is long, slow and warm.

Over all:

For some reason ‘crisp’ is the word that keeps coming to mind in describing Wathen’s.  My fears about the age turned out to be unfounded: however long it sat in that barrel, that was the right time.  I can see myself pulling this off my shelf from time to time, it’s not overly complicated, but there’s a subtlety behind that crispness which I enjoy.

Elijah Craig Single Barrel

I’m back from vacation and found some time to stop by LeNell’s to pick up the next couple subjects for this blog of mine.

Appearance:

This week, I tried the Elijah Craig Single Barrel.  ECSB is one of those bourbons that could go either way.  On the one hand, its placement in the higher end of the market implies (and hopefully demands) a certain level of quality, but at the same time when bourbons get up to 18 years that can sometimes be to much wood.  No on wants to feel like they’re chewing on the barrel after all.

However it turned out, ECSB will make a fine aesthetic addition to any bourbon shelf.  The bottle stands out from the standard dusty-old-man school of design that most bourbons seem to adhere to.  Instead ECSB takes a decidedly more feminine approach, more like Four Roses Small Batch.  Its smooth curves and slender neck are adorned by swirls of flowers, petals, and vines and the label sports a baby-blue, gold, and white color scheme.  At the center of it all is the Elijah Craig seal, hanging like a silver pendant on a debutante’s neck (sadly, this seal is made of what seems to be cheap plastic).

All this does seem a little over-done, but that just means it will provide a nice visual counter-weight to the creaking masculinity of the Wellers and Grand-Dads of Old.

Tasting:

To the nose Elijah Craig Single Barrel comes across quite simply and a little off-puttingly.  The stark corn and char that make up the dominant features seem out of place in such an old bourbon.  Surely these would have been tempered by their time in the oak?  I was hoping for something more at this stage.

On tasting, the first sensation is red berries, followed quickly by the sweet corn and char.  These mix and provide some heat in the middle, but are followed by a pleasant finish of freshly mowed hay that fades to wet oak – edging very close to the point of over-aged, but not quite getting there.

Over all:

Elijah Craig Single Barrel is quite smooth with a touch of heat and vigor in the middle.  The finish definitely reflects its aging, but does not go too far.  It was not as simplistic as I had feared from the scent, it was well balanced over all, and flirting with the boundary of over-agedness.

The finish is a long one.  This is a drink to take your time with.

Apologies for the low-quality picture.  My usual camera is out of service at the moment.