Elmer T. Lee's birthday was Friday. Family and friends celebrated in the log cabin "club house" on the distillery grounds in Frankfort, Kentucky, that is named after him.
Elmer went to work at the distillery now called Buffalo Trace in 1949. He retired in 1986 and began his second career, as a good will ambassador.
Elmer looked good at the party. His family was there, so were many of his closest friends. Not just fellow Buffalo Trace folks but also all of his competitors: Jimmy Russell from Wild Turkey, Parker Beam and Craig Beam from Heaven Hill, Jim Rutledge from Four Roses, Greg Davis from Tom Moore (recently acquired by Buffalo Trace), and Kevin Smith from Maker's Mark.
Elmer's namesake bourbon is one of the best products Buffalo Trace makes. At the party, a limited edition to celebrate Elmer's 90th was unveiled. A nice touch: the cap is topped with the pattern from Elmer's ubiquitous cap. All of the guests at the party received a bottle. Elmer's keepsake was a barrel head signed by each of the guests.
Although no one at Buffalo Trace will mind if publicity about the event sells more of their whiskey, it really was a very intimate and emotional occasion, a reminder to all of us with elderly friends, mentors or family members that every moment we have with them, every opportunity to say "thank you," is precious.