Maker’s Mark American Pharoah Bourbon Whiskey Turquoise Bottle Turquoise Wax

MAKER'S MARK AMERICAN PHAROAH BOURBON WHISKEY TURQUOISE BOTTLE TURQUOISE WAX

SPIRIT: Bourbon

VOLUME: 1 L

ABV/PROOF: 45/90

AGE: Not stated

Nothing says “Kentucky” like bourbon and horse racing, especially in combination. Throw in the marketing genius of Maker’s Mark and you’ve got a power trio that’s as Bluegrass as it gets. And perhaps there is no finer example of this phenomenon than Maker’s Mark’s highly collectible limited-edition, American Pharoah.

In 2015, the Kentucky-foaled thoroughbred American Pharoah became the first Grand Slam champion of horse racing. This unparalleled achievement required a Triple Crown victory, composed of consecutive wins at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, as well as securing the Breeders’ Cup at the Keeneland racetrack – and all within the same calendar year. It was a remarkable accomplishment, one that surely warranted commemoration. (And yes, the horse’s name is spelled Pharoah instead of the proper spelling, Pharaoh, a topic of minor controversy in horse racing circles.)

Unlike most American spirits producers, who commemorate special events with whiskeys of limited quantity and/or considerable maturity, Maker’s Mark keeps its liquid the same, and focuses on bottle design to set its limited-edition bottles apart. While stories exist of rare, non-red-wax bottle dips stretching back to the 1970s (usually said to be private bottlings for the Samuels family), the first official limited-edition Maker’s Mark bottling occurred well over a decade later.

According to Maker’s Mark’s president, Bill Samuels Jr.*, the distillery manufactured blue-wax seals for the state of Kentucky in 1993. Having a decent portion of wax left over, they decided to dip Maker’s Mark liter bottles in blue wax instead of their signature red wax. The bottles retailed at standard price but were quickly bought and resold by collectors for over $200 dollars each (a sizable amount for an American whiskey in the early 1990s).

Since that time, Maker’s Mark has created commemorative bottles for the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, and Keeneland, as well as various sports and horse racing legends. Oftentimes, portions of the sales are donated to charitable programs, as was the case with Maker’s Mark’s most unique and recognizable limited edition, American Pharoah.

Released on May 1, 2016, at a suggested price of $74.99, American Pharoah is distinctive from other Maker’s Mark limited editions. The entire glass surface is painted blue. The neck is sealed with blue wax and adorned with a yellow ribbon sporting blue polka dots – colors and patterns representative of Zayat Stables, the horse’s home, as well as the silks worn by jockey Victor Espinoza. Finally, the front of the bottle features an artistic rendition of the famous bay colt with the caption “American Pharoah, 2015 Grand Slam Winner.” 

Release: Maker’s Mark American Pharoah

Spirit: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Misc.: Distilled, aged and bottled by the Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc., Star Hill Farm, Loretto, Kentucky. The sides of the bottle contain the following paragraphs:

In 2015, race fans witnessed something no one had ever seen before – American Pharoah became the first-ever winner of horse racing’s Grand Slam. After sweeping the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, the three-year-old bay became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years and only the 12th in history. Then, at Keeneland in the state where he was born, American Pharoah went wire-to-wire to win the fourth leg of the Grand Slam – the Breeders’ Cup Classic. 

This limited-edition commemorative bottle is Maker’s Mark’s tribute to one of horse racing’s greatest – American Pharoah. In celebration of the first-ever Grand Slam Champion, Maker’s Mark will make a donation to help a local charitable organization in Kentucky dedicated to honoring the sport of horse racing.

Collectors’ tips: Since the whiskey inside the American Pharoah bottle is the standard Maker’s Mark bourbon, appearance and condition are paramount. Collectors are encouraged to seek out pristine specimens, free from manufacturing imperfections and/or damage. To date, the total bottle count is undisclosed. Based on prior Maker’s Mark limited-edition counts, American Pharoah could range anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 bottles.

*Source: Samuels Jr., Bill. Maker’s Mark, My Autobiography. 2000, 2009. Saber Publishing, Louisville, KY.

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