Every May since 1875 the finest three-year-old thoroughbreds from all over the world gather at Churchill Downs to compete in the Kentucky Derby. Since 1939 the official drink of the Kentucky Derby has been the Mint Julep. Starting with Derby 131 Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, introduced a $1,000 mint julep with proceeds going to support a local charity or good cause and that tradition continues in 2023.
2023 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown Win
The Kentucky Derby is often referred to as “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports”. 99.3% of the time that is true but in 1973 a chestnut-colored horse named Secretariat changed all that as he completed the first run of the triple crown and won the Kentucky Derby with a record winning time of 1:59 2/5. He later went on to win the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes making him a Triple Crown winner.
To celebrate Secretariat’s 50th Anniversary of this historic achievement Woodford Reserve is dedicating this year’s $1,000 and $3,500 Mint Julep charity program to ‘Big Red’. A total of 150 cups are now available for purchase at WoodfordReserveMintJulep.com. Buyers of the cups must be pick them up at Churchill Downs on Derby Day at the $1,000 Mint Julep Experience in the paddock.
Proceeds from the $1,000 and $3,500 Cups go to the Secretariat Foundation
You can watch the introduction ceremony here hosted by Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris.
This year, all proceeds benefit the Secretariat Foundation. The foundation was created by Mrs. Penny Chenery, who owned Secretariat, to support thoroughbred and equine-related industries. Chenery passed away in 2017, but her children continue operating the charity in her memory.
The 2023 cups were designed by Makers House Creative Director Josh Merideth and handmade by Louisville-based jeweler From the Vault. Each cup features a design of Secretariat’s famed blue and white checkered silks in sapphires. One side of the cup features an engraving of 1973, the year Secretariat won The Kentucky Derby, and the other features 2023.
Of the 150 cups available, 100 are silver cups retailing for $1,000, and 50 are gold cups retailing for $3,500. Everyone purchasing the gold cups will have their names engraved on the bottom and they will receive the handwritten autograph of Secretariat Jockey Ron Turcotte. All cups will be nestled in silk artwork of Secretariat in the Winner’s Circle at Churchill Downs.
2023 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe
The mint julep recipe features Woodford Reserve Bourbon and handmade chestnut liqueur, which honors Secretariat’s chestnut coat, as well as mint and Virginia bluebell flowers to celebrate the state where Secretariat was born. In a bit of a twist, the mint spring is simply placed in the cup for aroma.
“Secretariat is one of the most iconic thoroughbreds in horse racing history, and it’s an honor to celebrate his enduring legacy through our $1,000 Mint Julep program,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall. “The money raised from this charity program will help ensure the impact of Secretariat is told for many years to come.”
Secretariat’s Mint Julep
- 2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- 1 oz. chestnut liqueur
- 1 sprig of mint, for garnish
- 1 stalk of Virginia bluebells, for garnish
- Mix, then pour over a julep cup filled with crushed ice.
- Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells.
Woodford Reserve is the Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby. Woodford Reserve bourbon is crafted at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery, tucked in the heart of thoroughbred country in Versailles, Kentucky. A National Historic Landmark, the Woodford Reserve Distillery represents craftsmanship with a balance of historic heritage and modern practices.
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