Woodford Reserve Derby bottles

Woodford Reserve Derby Bottle 2021 artwork flows with 2020 bottle; Evan Williams Kentucky Derby Fest bottle; new Maker’s Mark wood finish

The sun is shining in my old Kentucky home today, and with talk of the Kentucky Derby, I feel as if spring is officially here. I jumped on a Zoom call this morning with fellow Louisville media to hear all about the new Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottle, which features equine artwork from the same artist as last year — Richard Sullivanand, get this, the image is basically an extension of last year’s art.

Why does that matter? Because it’s going to look damn cool on your bar, that’s why! Sullivan’s image of the horses running the Kentucky Derby has basically been extended between the two bottles, so you can display them side by side and practically have Derby artwork on your bar — with delicious bourbon inside!

Woodford Reserve Derby bottles
The one on the left is the 2020 bottle, and 2021 is on the right. | Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

Bourbon and art make a lovely pair.

In this morning’s press conference, Sullivan, a Louisville-based artists and former professional baseball player, said this opportunity has been a dream come true, and his artwork is meant to “capture the spirit of the Kentucky Derby.”

The bottles will hit shelves as early as this week and retail for $49.99. You might be able to find some of the 2020 bottles in area liquor stores, and in fact, I just saw some recently at the Total Wine in St. Matthews.

Evan Williams releases Kentucky Derby Festival bottle March 11
Evan Williams Kentucky Derby Festival bottle
Love that pink! | Courtesy of Evan Williams

And speaking of Derby, the fine folks at the Kentucky Derby Festival are once again partnering with Evan Williams for the annual Kentucky Derby Festival Bottle that features the 2021 Pegasus Pin on the neck. This year, the wax is a dapper hot pink!

The limited-edition 2013 vintage is bottled at 115 proof, which commemorates both the 66th Kentucky Derby Festival plus the 49th Pegasus Pin anniversary (66+49=115). Each bottle of the single barrel bourbon contains the exact day it was put into an oak barrel to age, the barrel number and the date it was bottled.

“Our partnership with Evan Williams celebrates two of Kentucky’s favorite things — the Derby Festival and bourbon,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival President and CEO, in a news release. “Although 2021 will be different, Pegasus Pins are still a great way to share the Derby Festival spirit and support your favorite events.”

The bottles will be available mostly at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville on Thursday, March 11. They’ll retail for $74.99.

Say hello to Maker’s Mark FAE-01
Maker's Mark FAE-01
Can’t wait to try this! | Courtesy of Maker’s Mark

Also coming out this week is a new limited release in the Maker’s Mark Wood Finishing Series, titled FAE-01. This is the third in the series and is named after the staves that altered the standard Maker’s Mark bourbon.

“For 2021, we leaned into our column stills and nonchill-filtering process, which, simply put, helps us retain the texture and a higher viscosity of the whisky,” said Jane Bowie, Maker’s Mark Director of Innovation, in a news release. “What we got is an expression that highlights the fruit-forward taste profile in an unexpected and much welcomed way. It tastes just like a barrel warehouse smells.”

Now you got my attention! The smell of a rick house is like no other, and it brings me pure joy whenever I’m inside one.

The bourbon will be released anywhere from 110.3-110.6 proof and retail for $59.99 a bottle.

Evan Williams Kentucky Derby Festival bottles

Evan Williams limited edition Kentucky Derby Festival bottle now available!

Evan Williams Kentucky Derby Festival bottles

The bottles are here! | Photo by Sara Havens

Forget the damn groundhog. The first sign of spring in Louisville typically comes courtesy of the Kentucky Derby Festival, and this most recent announcement makes us yearn for warmer weather, flowering dogwoods and all things Derby and bourbon, of course!

The limited-edition Evan Williams Kentucky Derby Festival Single Barrel bottles are launching today — right now, in fact — and you can even swing by the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience from noon-4 p.m. and dip your own bottle and affix the gold Pegasus Pin.

New this year is the color of the wax — a hunter green that replaces the gold wax from years before. This darker color both complements the bourbon and the label and also makes the gold pin pop!

dipping bottles at Evan Williams

Derby Festival Chair Judy Hess and President Matt Gibson watch as Artisanal Distiller Jodie Filiatreau dips a bottle. | Photo by Sara Havens

I swung by the downtown distillery to watch them dip the first few bottles, and it truly is an experience.

There are only 600 of these bottles available to the public, and each one comes with a gold pin that is part of the bottle, and also a Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Pin for you to wear.

The bottles retail for $74.99 and are a stout 113 proof — commemorating both the 65th Kentucky Derby Festival and the 48th year of the Pegasus Pin (64+48=113). Look, Ma, I did math!

The bourbon was distilled in 2012, making it 8 years old.

Artisanal Distiller Jodie Filiatreau started the press conference off with a toast (gotta love bourbon press conferences), saying, “Let’s raise a toast to Kentucky’s heritage and usher in the 2020 Kentucky Derby.” He said Evan Williams always is happy to partner with the Kentucky Derby Festival, and he’s looking forward to sharing the bourbon with the public.

Again, today, Wednesday, Feb. 19, you can dip your own bottle from noon-4 p.m. at no cost other than the price of the bottle. And remember, only 600 bottles are available.

More photos on the high-tech dipping experience — and cookies — below.