Tonight's the night to raise a glass of bourbon to toast one of Kentucky's finest: Reports say that Elmer T. Lee, one of the Kentucky bourbon pioneers and master distiller emeritus for Buffalo Trace Distillery, has died at age 93.
Lee was responsible for bourbon's revival, says news outlet Business Lexington, thanks to single-barrel bourbon. With the release of Blanton's, the world's first single-barrel bourbon, in 1984, Lee's mark on bourbon was forever made. Single-barrel bourbon boomed, and the Kentucky bourbon industry followed suit. Lee retired in 1985, but continued to advise distilleries and became an ambassador and distiller emeritus for Buffalo Trace. "We have lost a wonderful friend today, and he will be missed terribly," said Mark Brown, the president and CEO of Sazerac, the parent company of Buffalo Trace, in a statement to Kentucky.com. "... Elmer defined, in the simplest terms, what it means to be a great American: hard working, self-made, courageous, honest, kind, humble and humorous."
Bourbon expert Fred Minnick notes that Lee was inducted in the Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2001, earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from Whisky Advocate in 2002, and Whisky Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award and Hall of Fame induction in 2012. Check out this video uploaded last year by Buffalo Trace, featuring Lee himself.