It features the work of Louisville artist Richard Sullivan, a former Atlanta Braves baseball player. Sullivan’s stunning watercolor image is of thoroughbreds as they thunder toward the finish line, with the famed Twin Spires of Churchill Downs in the background.
“There is a poetic beauty in this year’s bottle because Richard Sullivan, the human athlete, is celebrating the equine athlete,” said Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris.
The one-liter bottles of Woodford Reserve Bourbon are on sale across the United States and the globe with a retail price of $49.99. It is available for pre-sale starting March 2nd on Reserve Bar.
“My goal was to create a beautiful image of the Kentucky Derby that embodies the spirit of competition, dedication, and freedom that is required to be your best,” Sullivan said. “I wanted to capture this intense moment of competition that is shared between the human and equine athlete. A moment when everything is on the line, time stops, awareness is heightened, mind and body are one, and anything is possible.”
Sullivan played baseball at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and, in 2008, he was drafted by the Braves in the 11th round as a junior and played six years of minor league baseball. He returned to SCAD in 2014 to finish his degree and focus exclusively on his artwork.
His work is featured across the United States, including at The Atlanta Braves Truist Park, Mercedes Benz Stadium and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He also recently collaborated with Topps trading cards to create a series of twenty paintings of rising MLB stars for the Momentum Rising set.
Sullivan said he enjoys the parallels between sports and creativity, connecting two seemingly divided worlds that, in reality, require the same sense of dedication, practice, and expertise.
The Derby bottle has been an annual collector’s item anticipated by bourbon and racing fans since 1999.
Bottle release party planned in Louisville
A special Derby bottle release party will be held on 4-7 p.m. Saturday, March 21 at Stoneware & Company, 731 Brent Street in Louisville, Ky.
The “Spring Into Derby” festival, being held on the first day of Spring, will include a Derby fashion show featuring hats and bow-ties, Bluegrass Music and classic Kentucky foods.
It is a benefit for the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs and will feature Sullivan autographing Derby bottles with Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Chris Morris and Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall.