How Blanton's Revolutionized The Bourbon Industry

World War II veteran Elmer T. Lee began working for Buffalo Trace in 1949, eventually earning the prestigious title of Master Distiller. He was the first in the company to do so, but his impact on the bourbon industry spans much wider in reach.

In 1984, bourbon sales had hit a plateau, yet an unfazed Lee began bottling bourbon taken from barrels stored smack in the middle of his distillery's storeroom. Lee had noticed a distillery president remove bourbon from the middle of the company's warehouse to entertain noteworthy personalities and guests, as the leader thought that bourbon aged from these center barrels was of higher quality than those found along the perimeter of the storeroom. Lee took a page from this same book, bypassing any bourbon-blending shenanigans and heading straight to the middle of the warehouse to bottle Blanton's bourbon from one barrel and one barrel alone. His decision sparked a movement.

Inspired bourbon bottling

At the time, Elmer T. Lee's gumptious decision was revolutionary, and as Blanton's bottles of bourbon began to hit markets, this unique approach to bottling the libation garnered attention for the Blanton label. Not only was Blanton's bourbon delicious to taste, but each bottle seemed to deliver unique notes and nuances for practiced drinkers to savor. Adding to the intrigue of the Blanton brand, each bourbon label was marked with the date and batch of bottling. 

Lee's contribution to the world of bourbon can still be seen, with single-barrel bourbons marking a special, premium category of the spirit and sending connoisseurs and dedicated collectors on wild chases to get their hands on some of the more precious and rare releases. Lee's industrious act helped Blanton's bourbon cement its mark on the map of popular libations, and to this day, other distilleries tout single-barrel production labels with pride. Raise your next dram in honor of Lee.