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Elmer T. Lee vs John J. Bowman: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Elmer T. Lee vs John J. Bowman in this in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel

NoseFloral, honey, oak, baking spice
PalateVanilla, oak, cherry
FinishCaramel, vanilla, spice
Alcohol content90 proof (45% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toE.H. Taylor, Blanton’s, Stagg Jr.

Elmer T. Lee is made at the Buffalo Trace Distillery using the same mash as Blanton’s.

The difference lies in Blanton’s being aged in the best location within the distillery and being bottled at a slightly higher proof (93 vs 90).

The nose is sweet, with a pleasant floral note, baking spice and a whiff of ethanol that fades as you let it breathe.

On the palate, the Elmer T. Lee feels a bit thin lacking in body. Flavor is smooth and sweet, offering traditional bourbon flavors such as vanilla, cherry and fruity notes with a subtle oak note.

The finish has lingering cinnamon spice, caramel, vanilla and subtle oak char with almost no burn making it a very easy sipper.

Elmer T. Lee is smooth all the way through to the finish, with traditional bourbon notes of vanilla, cherry and caramel, although lacking in body which kinda comes as a surprise.

The low proof (90) is also a disappointment making me think that Elmer T. Lee is a bit over-hyped.

If you can find it at MSRP (+/- $60) is OK but is not worth paying secondary market prices for it. Is just not that good.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel:

  • It has no age statement, but assumed the average age is 6.
  • Mash bill is unknown.
  • Double Gold Medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Elmer T. Lee is a former Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace.

John J. Bowman Single Barrel

NoseOak, vanilla, cinnamon
PalateOak spice, apple, brown sugar, baking spice
FinishMedium, dry, leather, oak
Alcohol content100 proof (50% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toBlanton’s, Bowman Brothers

The nose is strong in oak, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon coming behind.

On the palate, the Bowman Single Barrel has a nice creamy feel. Flavor delivers oak spice up-front, with brown sugar and apple underneath. Baking spice and vanilla come later proving good balance.

The finish has a medium length, with a dry feel to it, with more oak and a hint of leather. It bites nicely proving a satisfying experience.

Adding a dash of water releases caramel and tunes-down the oak spice making it even better.

John Bowman is somewhat tingly, yet drinks pleasantly as the sweetness balances the spice.

There is something about it that reminds me of the E.H. Taylor but with added spice making it quite tasty.

This juice from this bourbon comes from perhaps the best distillery in Kentucky and is later shipped to Virginia where a third distillation is added and aged for around 10 years.

In summary, John Bowman is a solid bourbon, not a mind-blowing pour nor earth-shattering but it drinks nicely and something good to try if you are looking for new stuff to add to your cabinet.

There are a few facts worth knowing about John J. Bowman Single Barrel:

  • Aged for around 10 years.
  • Mash bill is unknown but the rye content is around 10%.
  • Drawn from a single barrel.
  • John Bowman is triple-distilled and aged in the state of Virginia.

What do Elmer T. Lee and John J. Bowman have is common?

Both are crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery

These bourbons belong to the same parent company and are crafted at the same distillery. The difference lies in the third distillation and the longer aging the John Bowman goes through in the state of Virginia.

Elmer T. Lee vs John Bowman: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel $175
John J. Bowman Single Barrel$80

Elmer T. Lee vs John J. Bowman: Which is better?

John Bowman is a more tasty bourbon

WhiskeyElmer T. LeeJohn Bowman
  • Personally, I found the Elmer T. Lee to be underwhelming. Is not a bad bourbon but it doesn’t taste like a top-dram. The thin body and the average proof don’t help its cause either.
  • You will be better served buying the Blanton’s Single Barrel which is made from the same mash and bottled at a higher proof.
  • John J. Bowman is a solid offering. Is more tasty, better bodied and more satisfying. Even though is not a bargain Elmer T. Lee crazy prices make it look like a gift.

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