As I’ve always maintained when writing whiskey reviews, there’s nothing wrong at all with sourcing your product. Most young distilleries of the modern microdistillery generation have done exactly that, buying juice from the likes of MGP or others while they wait for their stocks to mature. Others, like the fancifully named Louisville Bourbon Transit Co., don’t have a distillery at all—they’re what is referred to in the industry as a non-distiller producer, or NDP. But they’re quite forthcoming in the fact that they’re selling a sourced bourbon from Tennessee, and we always appreciate when these things are transparent. In fact, they only sell one product, and it’s called Bedtime Bourbon, currently in its third batch.
Bedtime Bourbon is sourced from Tennessee, from an unnamed distillery, although the smart money would suggest this could be Dickel stock. We can also probably assume that this is charcoal filtered, as with most Tennessee whiskey. They seem to be aiming at the top end of the middle shelf, with a well-aged (8 years) bourbon that is cut to 90 proof with Kentucky limestone-filtered water and sold at an MSRP of $59. Seems fairly reasonable to us, especially given the very small batch sizes. The first three batches of Bedtime Bourbon, in fact, have been a mere 12 barrels in all, totaling 2,418 hand-numbered bottles. The most recent, batch 3, was 5 barrels (1,048 bottles) in total.
According to the company, “Bedtime Bourbon is the perfect friend to greet you after a long day of work, while relaxing on the porch and, of course, as a nightcap before laying down for the evening.” So, let’s get into it and see what we pick up.
On the nose, Bedtime Bourbon is both classic and a little mysterious. Caramel is there for sure, as well as a nuttiness that leans more in the direction of honey-roasted peanuts. Fruit notes are stone fruit-like (peach, plum), but there’s also a surprisingly strong ethanol character here that seems a bit out of place for a merely 90-proof bourbon. It’s sort of the opposite of what the name “Bedtime” had me expecting, which would have been a somewhat more gentle, less boozy profile.
On the palate, I get some of those same elements, while others are also introduced. This is hot, spicy and sweet all at once, with big notes of caramel and molasses cookie—more like gingerbread Christmas cookie, actually—supported by dry, seasoned oak and a bit of tannic bitterness. Again, it strikes me as hotter than you’d expect for the 90 proof, which isn’t necessarily something I want—after all, I can always reach for all the 100-plus stuff when I’m in the mood for the burn. There’s an interesting interplay here, though, between the more caramelized/richer elements and the hot spice (cinnamon candies, nutmeg), along with no shortage of oak presence.
All in all, there’s a lot here that works, but I could stand for it to be a little bit more smoothly integrated in the alcohol department. It seems more like a bourbon to get amped up with, rather than one for bedtime—but that’s just me.
Distillery: Louisville Bourbon Transit Co. (sourced, Tennessee)
City: Louisville, KY
Style: Straight bourbon
ABV: 45% (90 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $59 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident brown liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.