Woodford Reserve has just released its 2022 Kentucky Derby bottle featuring art from Kentucky artist Jamie Corum. The painting featured on the labels is called “Dreams in Bloom” and features three Thoroughbred racehorses surrounded by myriad spring flowers with jockeys peeking over the flowers.
“Our history with the Kentucky Derby primarily dates back generations with W.L. Lyons Brown, Sr, who was Chairman of Brown-Forman, when he had Fathom in the 1971 Kentucky Derby with the first female jockey to ride in the Derby, Diane Crump,” explains Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris. “Years later, we had the original premade Mint Julep for well over 30 years, now occupied by the Old Forester Mint Julep. And then in 1999 we began our status as the first and only official Bourbon of The Kentucky Derby, which has now developed into the presenting sponsorship.”
The relationship between horse racing and Bourbon goes back to the beginning of both industries and even further, as Bourbon was sold in New Orleans after a flatboat trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and sellers would have to buy a fast horse to make it back to Kentucky. Today, when the first Saturday in May rolls around, both of Kentucky’s signature industries are on display to the world.
“I absolutely think this partnership is a match made in heaven,” says Woodford Reserve Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall. “You’ve got Churchill Downs with the horses and then Woodford Reserve, which is the best Bourbon in Kentucky. You can’t beat that.”
Each year, Woodford Reserve commissions a local artist to create the label for that year’s commemorative bottle. The 2020 bottle’s artwork was created by former Atlanta Braves baseball player Richard Sullilvan, who now calls Louisville home.
“I was inspired by some of my own works that revolve around a trio of horses,” says artist Jaime Corum. “That has been a theme that I have explored for many years, and there are many iterations of the trio of racing horses. It wasn’t a completely new thing, but I felt it worked perfectly to accomplish what I wanted for the label. The surrounding flowers were an effort to symbolize Kentucky in Spring, featuring the roses of Derby and featuring the blanket of roses, but I also snuck a few Oaks Lilies in there. There are dogwood flowers, daisies, and buttercups, all the flowers you’ll see in Kentucky in the Spring. It celebrates my home state in Springtime. I just wanted that pairing of the power and intensity of the horses with the beauty of the flowers around them.”
Woodford Reserve has been releasing commemorative Derby bottles since 1999. This year’s 1-Liter bottle is on sale across the USA as well as globally, and preordering is available starting today at ReserveBar for folks outside of Kentucky. MSRP is $49.99.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl