Woodford Reserve Distillery - Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris, Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall, and Sr. Brand Manager Robert Rixman

25-years ago Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles, Kentucky became the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. That partnership has continued to flourish over the last quarter century. As we approach this year’s first Saturday an May and the 150th running of the Run for the Roses Churchill Downs and Woodford Reserve have taken their relationship to a next level with the introduction of a thrice barreled bottle of Woodford.

To commemorate this silver anniversary the distillery commissioned 150 bottles of “Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby 150 Baccarat Edition American Whiskey”. The distillery says these bottles will be the rarest in the brand’s 27-year history. They also come with a rare whiskey price of $15,000 each.

Brainstorming for the 150th Kentucky Derby Bourbon

Subscribe to DistilleryTrail’s YouTube channel.

“We wanted to have something special connected physically in terms of liquid to the track, to the 150 Kentucky Derby,” explained Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris. “The first thought was, ‘Hey let’s build a little warehouse in the infield and age barrels of Woodford Reserve.’ Legal people said, ‘Not a chance.’

“’Let’s put some barrels of Woodford in a horse trailer and drive them around the bluegrass region and visit all the historic Derby horse farms.’ Legal people said, ‘Not going to happen.’

“So, what are we going to do? ‘Let’s make a barrel out of wood that has seasoned at Churchill Downs.’ Seasoning is a part of softening and preparing the wood for being made into a barrel. Legal said, ‘We could do that.’ So, that’s what we did.

Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.

The Making of the ‘150 Baccarat Edition’

“We brought wood from the Brown-Forman Cooperage. Exactly 120 staves. Elizabeth and I, with help from the Churchill team and Robert (Rixman) built a stack in the Winners Circle. And on to the cooperage it went a season later to be made into two very special barrels.”

“Playing off of our heritage of making couture barrels, we built these barrels into heavily toasted and lightly charred barrels,” added Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall.

“Then, the magic happened with the liquid. We couldn’t put just any ordinary liquid into these barrels, not that Woodford Reserve bourbon is ordinary. What we did is we took our Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition finished in XO Cognac casks, and then we took that liquid and put into these specialty-based barrels. So, thrice barreled bourbon or whiskey, then we aged it there for about a year in our heat cycled warehouses.

“When we retrieved this liquid, it had a stunning flavor profile of nice rich toasted oak, elevated baking spice, sweet aromatics, something truly unique. Only two barrels of this liquid exist in the world. We are only filling 150 bottles to celebrate the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby.”

Thrice Barreled and Thrice Split

This thrice-barreled American whiskey has rested in three unique barrels.

Barrel No. 1: The original Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrel for seven-years
Barrel No. 2: A cognac cask for five-years
Barrel No. 3: And a couture barrel for one-year whose staves were seasoned in the Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle. Can you say terroir (ter·roir /terˈwär/)?

Presented in a crystal decanter created by the artisans of renowned French Maison Baccarat, only 150 bottles are available. Each is packaged in a bespoke leather carrying case. To pay homage to the famed Garland of Roses, Baccarat infused the decanter’s crystal stopper with 24K gold to create a striking red color.

“This decanter embodies the spirit of Kentucky and the spectacle of Derby,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall.

With only 150 bottles each one has a special place. The winning owner of the 2024 Kentucky Derby will be presented with a decanter during the Garland of Roses ceremony on May 4, 2024, at Churchill Downs. One bottle is being donated by Woodford Reserve to charity – The Backside Learning Center, which assists families who work on the backside of Churchill Downs, caring for the thoroughbreds. The center will auction this rare bottle to raise funds for its programs. And the remaining 148 bottles are available to the public.

A limited number of bottles are available now for purchase on Woodford Reserve’s website. Beginning March 28, a small number of bottles will also be offered for purchase at the distillery gift shop along with limited in-store availability at retailers in Kentucky.

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby 150 Baccarat Edition American Whiskey Tasting Notes

Here are tasting notes provided by the distillery.

Color:  Carnelian Red
Aroma: Rich floral and red fruit notes sweetened with honey and textured with hearty oak and brown spices.
Taste: Brown sugar-caramelized citrus peel, rich toasted oak, caramel, warming spices and dried dark fruit.
Finish:  Big and bold with a long smoothing fruit and spice presence.
Proof: 90.4° (45.2% ABV) (Standard Woodford proof.)
Price: $15,000

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.

Related Stories
Woodford Reserve Distillery Releases 2024 ‘Adorned in Roses’ Bourbon Bottle Celebrating the 150th Kentucky Derby [VIDEO]
– Woodford Reserve’s 2023 Kentucky Derby Bottle Celebrates Secretariat’s 50th Anniversary Triple Crown Win [VIDEO]
– Woodford Reserve Unveils the 2022 – 23rd Anniversary Limited-Edition Kentucky Derby Bourbon Bottle
– And They’re Off: Woodford Reserve Releases 2021 Kentucky Derby Bottle – Pairs Well with 2020 Bottle
– Woodford Reserve Distillery Introduces the Woodford Reserve 146th Kentucky Derby Bottle [VIDEO] – 2020

Learn more about Woodford Reserve Distillery.
View all Kentucky Distilleries.
View all U.S. Distilleries.

Please help to support Distillery Trail. Sign up for our Newsletter, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Recommended Posts