By Coleman Bentley
In a country whose passion for pastimes runs deeps, it’s surprising that such a simple concept could be so often overlooked; iconic events should have equally iconic cocktails.
Thankfully, for the sake of elite imbibers everywhere, Woodford Reserve understand this principle, rolling out the world’s most exclusive mint julep for the world’s most exclusive Thoroughbred event, The Kentucky Derby. One of the most promising young whiskey distilleries in America and the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, Woodford Reserve has created 89 golden cups (in celebration of the gold Derby trophy’s 89th birthday) to be christened with a julep recipe sure to make King Midas jealous.
Available for sale April 15 to May 2, the 89 cup run contains three different editions, each including its own unique design and, for that matter, price point. The 79 Distinguished Cups feature a hand-engraved thoroughbred and rider, a gold-plated garland of roses and are available for $1,000 a piece.
As the production numbers go down, the need for an auctioneer goes up, with the ten Legendary Cups off to the auction block with starting bids set at $2,000. Make sure to bid on the Golden Opportunity Legendary Cup, opening at $5,000, as its owner also receives a private tour and dinner at Woodford Reserve Distillery, a personalized tour of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center with a Hall of Fame jockey and the opportunity to present the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic trophy on Derby Day. All proceeds benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Center, for which the cups, over the course of their eight-year existence, have raised $354,000.
Of course, a cocktail cup is only as good as the ingredients you pour into it, as Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve’s own master distiller, made clear when he stopped by the Elite Traveler offices earlier this month. After plying me with an a.m. tasting of the distillery’s Distiller’s Select, Double Oak and Master’s Collection blends, Morris hinted at his regal recipe, featuring a bevy of gold-influenced ingredients. The cocktail, as cup owners will learn, begins with the Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select bourbon, which is then blended with gold-dusted mint leaves and gold sorghum, both sourced locally in Kentucky, and finished with gold-filtered mineral water ice found beneath geological formations in the easternmost reaches of Nova Scotia to create a truly one-of-a-kind tipple experience.
And if you can’t make it to Churchill Downs this spring, don’t worry, as Woodford Reserve’s 2013 Commemorative Kentucky Derby bottle, featuring the artwork of Oregon-based painter Eric Bowman, caps “the greatest two minutes in sports” in one easily transportable (and most importantly, drinkable) package.