Woodford Reserve is one of the oldest and most historical distilleries in America. With this comes a rich history in the shaping of Kentucky and the shaping of the bourbon industry. This is one of the reasons Woodford has been the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby since 1999. Every year since they have produced a special edition Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottle.
In this article, we are going to cover any questions you may have about the Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottles and Woodford in general. Before we get to that, let’s look at some of the rich history we mentioned before.
Woodford Reserve History
The real history behind Woodford Reserve is the land and distillery, not the name. Elijah Pepper originally distilled whiskey in 1812 in northern Kentucky. The distillery was built in 1838 and was called the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery.
Over the next 150 plus years, the land and distillery were passed down a couple generations, sold to companies, sold to local farmers, and back to companies. In 1993, Brown-Forman, a previous owner, re-purchased the land and brought it back to life. Just a couple years later in 1996, Woodford Reserve was created.
Over 200 years have passed since spirits were first distilled on the land, and it’s been nearly 200 years that the distillery was first operational. While the name and owners have changed, it’s one of the oldest distilleries in Kentucky, and it’s a National Historic Landmark.
Woodford Reserve and the Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby (now the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve) is known as The Run for the Roses and The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. It is the first leg of the Triple Crown in horse racing and has taken place every year since its inauguration in 1875.
Kentucky isn’t the most famed or historical state in the US, but there are at least two things it’s known for – bourbon and the Kentucky Derby. It makes sense, then, why Woodford Reserve would sponsor the Kentucky Derby shortly after becoming operational. Drinking, gambling, and horse racing are as intertwined as any, and Woodford honors that every year with their sponsorship and special edition bottle.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Bottle
Every year since 1999 Woodford Reserve has released a Kentucky Derby edition of their award winning straight bourbon whiskey. While the whiskey in the bottle is the same, each year has a different piece of of artwork featured on the front. The last two years, 2020 and 2021, features images from Richard Sullivan, a Louisville resident and former baseball player for the Atlanta Braves.
Each edition is also numbered to coincide with the Kentucky Derby. For example, last year it was Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby 147 to celebrate the 147th running of the race.
We can soon expect Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby 148 to drop. The race almost always takes place on the first Saturday of May. This year, that is May 7th, 2022. Last year Woodford Reserve announced the no 147 bottle on March 2nd, 2021, so we should know more about the upcoming bottle soon.
Scroll down for our FAQ page on Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby, or keep reading for more information on Woodford including taste and price.
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Bottle 148
Woodford Reserve just released the Kentucky Derby Bottle 148 today, March 1, 2022. The Artwork, titled Dreams in Bloom, is done by Jaime Corum, a Kentucky native who is know for her horse portraits. The bottle is pictured below.
2023 Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Bottle 149
Below is the picture of the newest Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottle design – bottle 149. It is painted by Jaime Corum, the same artist who painted last years. This painting is titled “Secretariat – Still the Greatest”, and it features the horse, Secretariat, after winning the derby in 1973 with the fastest time ever of 1:59 2/5. This design is in celebration of the 50 year anniversary of that 1973 race.
Woodford Reserve is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Bourbon is simply classified as a whiskey distilled in the US with at least 51% in its mashbill and barreled in new charred oak casks. For a bourbon to be classified as “straight”, it must be aged a minimum of two years.
In Woodford Reserve’s case, it is aged 6-7 years and bottled at 45.2% abv, or 90.4 proof. Its mashbill also calls for more than 51% corn. Specifically, it’s 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley.
Woodford Reserve Taste
Woodford Reserve is one of the highest rated bourbon’s on the market at it’s price point. It has won multiple gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and often receives scores in the low 90’s.
Nose: Honey, oak, vanilla, and tobacco
Taste: Rich and thick, hints of fruit and honey, light caramel and spice.
Finish: Moderate finish, spice kicks in a bit more with the finish than the palate.
Woodford Reserve is a solid sipping whiskey. I certainly have some that I enjoy way more than Woodford, but there are a lot more options that I enjoy way less. I think at worst, Woodford is average or decent. At best, it’s your staple or “go to”.
Woodford Reserve Price
Woodford Reserve is generally known as being a top shelf whiskey, so with that in mind, it comes in at a very reasonable price point.
- Woodford Reserve 750ml: $30-40
- Woodford Reserve 1.75L: $53-65
I gave a pretty wide price range on Woodford since it can vary a bit and is also dependent upon location and individual store. Finding a bottle in the low to mid $30’s shouldn’t be too difficult, though.
Woodford Reserve Value
The value section is where we really compare taste with price to decide: is it worth buying? The answer ultimately depends upon two things. First is taste which is fairly subjective. If you haven’t had Woodford Reserve, it’s definitely good enough, or at then least not bad enough, to try.
Second is price. I just went to the closest liquor store to my house and purchased my bottle for $39.99. At $40, there are a many options cheaper, or a tad more expensive, that are better. Personally, at $40 I will not consistently pay for Woodford. 20 minutes away it is sold for $31.99, and that is a much better price range for where I rank Woodford Reserve.
Ultimately, if you love Woodford Reserve then there is nothing wrong with paying closer to $40 for a bottle. If you haven’t had it and happen to stumble across a bottle around $30, we recommend you try it!
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Summary
Bourbon and horse racing are such a large part of Kentucky’s history and culture that it’s only fitting one of the oldest and best distilleries sponsors the Kentucky Derby. If you are someone who appreciates bourbon, Woodford Reserve, the Kentucky Derby, or art, then the Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bottle is a very cool piece to own. Not only is the bottle and history cool, the whiskey inside is very good – hence our whole breakdown of Woodford Reserve.
If you enjoyed this article and want to know more about bourbon, head here!
Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby FAQ
Below are common questions about Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby, most of which has is covered in the article above.
Where Can I Buy Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby?
You’ll likely have to look online to get a bottle of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby as there aren’t many in circulation. You can go here to ReserveBar to order a 1L 147 bottle.
Does Woodford Reserve Always Sponsor the Kentucky Derby?
Woodford Reserve, as a brand, was created in 1996. They have been a sponsor of the Kentucky Derby since 1999. As recently as 2020, they took over as the primary sponsor of the Kentucky Derby.
What Is Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby?
Woodford releases a special edition bottle that dons custom artwork every year in celebration of the Kentucky Derby. The most recent editions no 146 and 147 are pictured above.
What Is the Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby 148?
The 148 bottle will likely be released in March, some 2 months before the Kentucky Derby takes place on May 7th, 2022.
How Much is Woodford Reserve at the Kentucky Derby?
You can purchase a Woodford drink at the Kentucky Derby for standard prices. However, they serve a $1,000 mint julip drink with Woodford in it at the Derby. The proceeds from this $1,000 drink go to charity, and the patrons get a mint and sugar bourbon drink.