Woodford Reserve Distillery - How to Make the 2021 Kentucky Derby $1,000 Mint Julep

Each year the Kentucky Derby, the fastest two minutes in sports takes place on the first Saturday in May. There are only a two exceptions that the race didn’t take place in its usual Spring timeslot. The first time was in 1945 when the U.S. Government put a pause on horse racing as we were fighting in WW II and the second was last year when we all took a pause because of the fight against Covid-19. The 1945 race eventually went off on June 9 of that year and last year the race went off on September 5.

Thankfully for 2021 the 147th Running of the Kentucky Derby returns to the first Saturday in May. This years race promises the return of big hats, cigars, betting, horses and of course Kentucky’s favorite brown spirit – bourbon!

The Mint Julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1939. Some folks are straight up Mint Julep fans, others have one because you kind of, sort of, have to have at least one on Derby Day while others ditch the mint and stick with their bourbon neat. Either way, it’s a time of year to celebrate Spring, outdoors and good times with friends, family and hopefully a winning ticket.

No Mint Inside the 2021 Mint Julep

Yes, you read the right. There is no muddled mint inside the 2021 $1,000 or $2,500 Mint Julep. There’s a sprig added for a garnish so technically it’s in there but without the muddling of the mint it’s just well, different. As for the mint garnish it’s there and you can still spank it before placing it in your glass whether that’s the $1,000 Mint Julep Cup or your own Red Solo cup. Think Churchill Downs Millionaire’s Row vs. Infield here.

Proceeds for the Cups Sold go to the Project to Protect African-American Turf History

Now in its 16th year, proceeds for the Woodford Reserve Distillery $1,000 and $2,500 Mint Julep are donated to a special cause. This year’s funds will honor the Black jockeys who dominated horse racing in its early years.

The jockeys were considered the first professional athletes in America — winning 15 of the early Kentucky Derbys before being pushed out of the sport by racism and segregation. A complete list of the black jockey’s that won the Kentucky Derby is listed below.

“The jockeys played a significant role in horse racing that many people know little about,” Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris said. “It’s time to honor them and their legacies. They each exemplified love for the sport and the pursuit of excellence, despite the inequality and injustice they faced throughout their lives and careers.”

Proceeds from this year’s cup sales benefit the Project to Protect African-American Turf History. The non-profit organization, based in Kentucky, has been working for more than a decade to tell the history of the Black jockeys.

PPAATH - The Isaac Murphy Image Award
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The Isaac Murphy Image Awards – Established in 2011 by the Project to Preserve African American Turf History (PPAATH). Presented as a part of the Kentucky Derby season, the awards showcase celebrates lifetime achievement of people of color in the categories of business, education, entertainment, and sports.

A total of 100 julep cups went on sale in April and quickly sold out. Cups numbered 1-11 are gold-plated and sold for $2,500 each.  Cups 12-100 are silver-plated and sold for $1,000. Each cup is engraved with the name of one Black jockey and the year or years they won the Derby. Normally the cups are picked up at the Churchill Downs on race day but due to the global pandemic, the cups will be mailed directly to consumers, along with most of the ingredients to make the Cherries and Cream mint julep. Cherries and cream were common ingredients for a Derby Day menu in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The cups were designed and hand-engraved by From the Vault jeweler in Louisville. Each comes in a bespoke purse designed by Louisville artist Albert Shumake — and each cup is cradled in decorative silk designed by Louisville artist Gwendolyn Kelly. Kelly’s custom pattern is the “four-man clover,” representing the interconnected network of support and strength among Black jockeys, trainers, and groomsmen.

How to Make the Official 2021 $1,000 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall show us how to make the 2021 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep.

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The 2021 Kentucky Derby Cherries & Cream Mint Julep

The cherries and cream julep is inspired by the Derby Day menus of the late 1800s and early 1900s when Black jockeys won the race. Vanilla bean pods represent the cream.


  • 2 OZ. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • .5 OZ. Cherry Juice
  • Half a Vanilla Bean Pod (cut into small segments)
  • 1 Tsp. Powdered Sugar
  • Mint Sprig, Cherry, and Vanilla Bean Pod for Garnish
  • Crushed Ice


  • In the julep cup, add .5 oz cherry juice.
  • Add half a vanilla bean pod cut into small segments.
  • Add 1 tsp. of powdered sugar.
  • Muddle or mix together.
  • Add crushed ice to 2/3 of the cup.
  • Add 2 oz of Woodford Reserve.
  • Top off the cup with crushed ice.
  • Garnish with a mint sprig, real cherry, and vanilla bean pod.

Black Jockeys Who Won the Kentucky Derby

Oliver LewisArisides1875
William “Billy” WalkerBaden-Baden1877
George Garret LewisFonso1880
Babe HurdApollo1882
Isaac MurphyBuchanan1884
Isaac MurphyRiley1890
Isaac MurphyKingman1891
Erskine “Babe” HendersonJoe Cotton1885
Isaac LewisMontrose1887
Alonzo “Lonnie” ClaytonAzra1892
James “Soup” PerkinsHalma1895
Willie SimmsBen Brush1896
Willie SimmsPlaudit1898
Jimmy WinkfieldHis Eminence1901
Jimmy WinkfieldAlan-a-Dale1902

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