Woodford Reserve Distillery - 2022 $2,500 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

The connection between American made bourbon whiskey and the Bourbon Dynasty in France goes back centuries. No one really knows the true origin of how bourbon whiskey got its name. Some say it comes from Bourbon County, Kentucky some say it comes from Bourbon Street in New Orleans and some say it comes from the Bourbon Dynasty in France. For today’s Day on the Trail and for the 2022 $1,000 and $2,500 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep, we are going with France!  

Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky is the home to Woodford Reserve bourbon. Woodford has been the sponsor of the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep for the last 17 years and 2022 is no different. Each year Woodford Reserve and Churchill Downs present a unique twist on the Mint Julep. They offer a limited edition of $1,000 and $2,500 Mint Juleps and before you think that’s kind of steep for a Julep the proceeds go to fund a different group in need each year.

Proceeds from 2022 will benefit Old Friends Farm, where famous thoroughbreds, including past Derby winners, are sent to retire peacefully. The charity was started by Mike Blowen, a retired journalist from The Boston Globe.

148th Running of the Kentucky Derby

A total of 148 cups, honoring Derby 148, will be available. Cups must be picked up in-person at Churchill Downs on Derby Day at the $1,000 Mint Julep Experience.

Handmade by Louisville-based jeweler From the Vault, the cups feature red rubies in the shape of a horseshoe. One side of the cup is engraved with a thoroughbred, representing Versailles, Kentucky, where Woodford Reserve Distillery is located and where many of the world’s best thoroughbreds are bred and raised. The other side includes a nod to Versailles, France.

Of the 148 cups, 18 are gold and retailing for $2,500 and 130 Silver and retailing for $1,000.

How Do You Pronounce Versailles?

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“The French connections to Kentucky are significant – from Versailles, the home of our distillery – to Louisville, KY, the city where the Derby is run and which was named after King Louis XVI,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. “Cheers – or as the French would say “Sante” – to Derby 148.”

There is a right way and a wrong way to pronounce Versailles depending upon which side of the pond you are on at the time. Here are both versions.

Kentucky –  Versailles (ver-sayles)
France – Versailles (vər-ˈsī)

This year’s $1,000 Mint Julep cocktail features ingredients found at France’s Palace of Versailles, once home to three of the country’s kings from the House of Bourbon: Kings Louis XIV to XVI. The cocktail brings together the flavors of orange, lemon and pomegranate with Woodford Reserve Bourbon.

The Palace is home to more than 1,200 fruit trees. Orange trees from Portugal, Spain and Italy, lemon trees, oleander, palm and pomegranate trees, some more than 200 years old, are all housed in the Orangery during the winter and spread out across its parterre in warm summer months. The scale, height and pure lines of the Orangery, which sits just below the Palace, make it one of Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s crowning achievements, demonstrating his talent as a great architect.

‘The French Mint Julep’ – The Official 2022 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe

2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2 tsp. honey syrup (½ part Honey from Versailles, France and ½ part water)
1 lemon peel
1 orange peel
2 fresh pomegranate arils, plus more for garnish
1 bunch fresh lemon Mint sprigs, garnish


In the Julep cup, add honey syrup, 1 peel each of the lemon and orange, 2 pomegranate arils, and muddle.
Then fill the cup ⅔ of the way with crushed ice.
Add Woodford Reserve Bourbon and top the cup off with more crushed ice.
Garnish by tucking in a fresh bunch of lemon mint, lemon and orange peels on the side. Top with fresh pomegranate arils and serve.

The Woodford Reserve Mint Julep cups are now available for sale via WoodfordReserveMintJulep.com.

How to Make a ‘Mocktail Mint Julep’

.5 oz. Mint Simple Syrup
Top with Unsweetened Tea

Build this drink in a tall glass with ice. Mix the ingredients in your glass with ice then stir.  Garnish with mint is available.

Kentucky Derby and Mint Julep Factoids

Q: When did the Mint Julep become the official drink of the Kentucky Derby?
A: 1939. The 65th running of the Kentucky Derby. Which horse won? Johnstown.

Q: When did Woodford Reserve first offer the $1,000 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep?
A: 2005. The 131st running of the Kentucky Derby. Which horse won? Giacomo

Q: How many Mint Juleps are sold at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day?
A: If you include Oaks Day, the Friday before the first Saturday in May and Derby Day, the first Saturday in May, the answer is about 120,000. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of bourbon, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.

Q: What is Kentucky’s official state drink?
A: Well, if you said bourbon, you would be wrong. Right in spirit but wrong in the eyes of the state legislature. In 2005, the state legislature declared milk as the official drink of Kentucky. Yup, milk.

Q: What is Kentucky’s official state soft drink?
A: Now normally we might not care what the state soft drink is but in this case its Ale-8-One. In 2013 state legislatures declared Ale-8-One as “an original Kentucky soft drink.” It’s kind of a ginger and citrus flavored soft drink with a kick of caffeine. And why do we mention it here? Because it mixes well with bourbon of course!

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You’ll have a Honey of a Time Sipping the 2019 $1,000 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep – Full Cocktail Recipe [Video]

Learn more about Woodford Reserve Distillery.
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