FRANKFORT, Franklin County, Ky (April 3, 2012) – Buffalo Trace Distillery garnered high honors during the Whisky Magazine Icons of Whisky Hall of Fame Awards ceremony held March 22, 2012 at the Waldorf Hilton in London, England. Most special was the Lifetime Achievement Award and Hall of Fame induction given to Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee.
Elmer T. Lee was born in 1919 on a tobacco farm near Peaks Mill in Franklin County, Kentucky. He graduated from Frankfort High School in 1936 and served in the U. S. Army Air Force during World War II as a radar bombardier on a B-29. After flying missions over Japan through 1945, Elmer was honorably discharged in January 1946. He returned home and studied engineering at the University of Kentucky, where he graduated with honors in 1949.
In September 1949 Elmer began working in the engineering department of the George T. Stagg (now Buffalo Trace) Distillery in Frankfort. In 1966, he was promoted to plant superintendent, responsible for all plant operations and in 1969 he became plant manager. Elmer retired in 1985, but continues to serve as ambassador for Buffalo Trace, educating others on the unique qualities of Kentucky’s bourbon whiskey.
It was in 1984 that Elmer introduced the single-barrel bourbon concept to the world with Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon, named in honor of Col. Albert B. Blanton. Elmer is known throughout the industry for his expertise and knowledge of bourbon whiskey and has received numerous awards and recognition.
In addition to Elmer’s honor, two whiskeys distilled at Buffalo Trace Distillery were also awarded “Best in the World” honors by Whisky Magazine at the Hall of Fame Awards:
- Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Kentucky Bourbon
- Best American Whiskey in the World
- Best Bourbon in the World
- Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Rye Whiskey
- Best Rye in the World
“It’s been such a pleasure and an honor to be able to learn from Elmer Lee,” said Harlen Wheatley, Buffalo Trace Distillery’s current Master Distiller. “The knowledge he brings forth to our industry has been invaluable, and we’re happy everyone else in the world recognizes it as well.”