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09.2013

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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Obituary - ELMER T. LEE

ELMER T. LEE 93
Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Emeritus Elmer T. Lee passed away on July 16 after a short illness.  Elmer was born in 1919 on a tobacco farm in Franklin County, Kentucky.  He graduated from Frankfort County High School in 1936 and worked for Jarman Shoe Company until December 1941.  He then served with the US Army Air Force in World War II as a radar bombardier on a B-29.  After flying missions against Japan through 1945, Elmer was honorably discharged in January 1946 –  returning home to study engineering at the University of Kentucky, where he graduated with honors in 1949. In 1949 Elmer began working in the engineering department of the George T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort.  In 1966, he was promoted to plant superintendent and in 1969 became plant manager.  But it was in 1984 that Elmer’s contribution to the bourbon industry gained him the most notoriety, when he introduced Blanton’s, the world’s first Single Barrel Bourbon.  He retired in 1985 but continued to serve as an ambassador for Buffalo Trace, and in 1986 he was honored with his very own single barrel bourbon – Elmer T. Lee.  Elmer was considered by many as a friend, a mentor and a trusted advisor.  He was known through the bourbon industry for his expertise and knowledge, receiving numerous awards and much recognition, including induction into the Bourbon Hall of Fame in 2OO1, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Whisky Advocate in 2OO2, and the Lifetime Achievement Award and Hall of Fame induction from Whisky Magazine in 2O12.

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