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Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel vs Stagg Jr: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Elmer T. Lee vs Stagg Jr 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 Single Barrel, Rock Hill Farms

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 (Alternatives) 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.
  • Double Gold Medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
  • Elmer T. Lee is a former Master Distiller.
  • Lee created the first single barrel bourbon with the release of Blanton’s Single Barrel.

Stagg Jr.

NoseVanilla, cherry pie
PalateCherry, cinnamon, baking spice, caramel, pecan
FinishOak, cinnamon and brown sugar
Alcohol content130 proof (65% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toE.H. Taylor Single Barrel, Blanton’s

The nose has a strong vanilla and cherry pie aroma that you can smell from across the room.

On the palate, Stagg Jr. has a thick and chewy texture and is strong and warm up-front. Once you let it develop it’s rich in cherry, cinnamon and baking spice with a touch of pecan.

The finish is warming but not harsh, rich in oak, with lingering fine spice hints and brown sugar.

Stagg Jr. is remarkably tasty, bold and rich although it has a fair amount of heat but well restrained for something bottled at such high proof.

This is a one of a kind bourbon for the brave with a penchant for strong and full of character spirits.

If you feel the burn add a large ice ball and that will tune it down a beat while releasing additional sweetness and wood.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Stagg Jr.

  • Typically aged from 8 to 9 years.
  • This bourbon is uncut as it was not diluted and unfiltered.
  • The distiller releases two batches annually.
  • This bourbon is called Stagg Jr as it’s the less mature version of George T. Stagg.

What do Elmer T. Lee and Stagg Jr. have in common?

Made by Buffalo Trace

Both brands are owned by the Sazerac Company headquartered in New Orleans and crafted at the Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Elmer T. Lee bourbon honors Buffalo Trace’s master distiller who retired in 1985, while George T. Stagg is the man that founded Buffalo Trace distillery.

These releases honor some of the most influential men in the history of bourbon.

Are Elmer T. Lee and Stagg Jr. the same bourbon?

The difference lies in the mash

Elmer T. Lee uses the same mash as Blanton’s while Stagg Jr. is made from the same mash as the Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare and E.H. Taylor.

Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel $170
Stagg Jr.$110

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel vs Stagg Jr: Which is better?

Stagg Jr. is supremely good

  • Stagg Jr is not for the faint at heart as it feels a bit warm at first, yet provides a great experience when adding a dash of water.
  • Elmer T. Lee tastes like a watered-down Blanton’s (made from the same mash) making me consider other options as it’s price is not watered-down.

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