The Louisville International Airport will reach a peak in traffic this week as thousands from around the world arrive in town to attend the 142nd running of the fabled Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Held each year on the first Saturday of May, the Derby is one of the premier events in thoroughbred racing and has been described as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”. Louisville often associated with The Kentucky Derby as well as the region’s historical ties to bourbon whiskey. The two go hand in hand, as the famous Mint Julep cocktail is the traditional beverage of the Derby.

Early Origins of The Mint Julep


The Mint Julep was formally named and recognized as the official beverage of the Kentucky Derby in 1938, although it had been enjoyed by many prior since 1803. It was formulated in Kentucky and Virginia, and some earlier recipes used rum or brandy in place of bourbon. Bourbon replaced other liquors and became the primary ingredient of the cocktail shortly after its inception, likely for economic reasons. Unlike others, bourbon has always been crafted and is exceptionally available; making it a drink for anyone of drinking age. Soem say many people, particularly farmers, often drank a Mint Julep before starting their work each morning, and it was also used for its medicinal properties. The Mint Julep contains bourbon, fresh mint leaves, sugar, and shaved ice; served in a silver cup. It named is derived from a drink called the “julab”, originally invented and imbibed in the Middle East. This refreshing beverage was made from water and rose petals, although fresh mint replaced rose petals shortly after it was introduced to other parts of the Mediterranean. A mint julep should be held by the top or bottom of the cup in order to allow the frost to form around the middle of the cup. The Kentucky Derby has a reputation as being an elite social event, full of pageantry and attended by some of the world’s most elite leaders and businesspeople. Commemorative editions of the mint julep are sold in an authentic Tiffany & Co. silver cup, and can come at a price of between $1,000-$2,000 a piece or perhaps more.

The Official Bourbon of The 2016 Kentucky Derby


Woodford Reserve is one of the most well-known and celebrated bourbon distilleries of them all, opening in 1996 as a high-end bourbon project of spirit giant Brown-Forman. Based in Frankfort, Kentucky, it was built on the grounds of a seventeenth century distillery originally operated by Elijah Pepper. When the property was purchased by Brown-Forman, they retained much of the original distilling equipment. They keep an abundant supply of charred and toasted white oak barrels on hand, which gives bourbon its trademark flavor. While Woodford Reserve might be much younger than many other bourbon distilleries, they have emerged as one of the premier brands in bourbon in their relatively short twenty year history. Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby Festival. Their distillery, and others, are located in the famed Bluegrass region of the state, which is widely recognized for its illustrious ties to the raising of thoroughbred racing horses. Consequently, bourbon and thoroughbred racing have long-established connections with one another.


Those traveling to Louisville to attend The Derby might also enjoy meandering through The Bourbon Trail, which features of a few of the most famous bourbon distilleries in the world. Many of the distilleries offer tours of their facilities, and serve their guests samples of their various different types of bourbon. The gleaming copper stills and neatly arranged rows of charred white oak barrels are a sight to behold for bourbon connoisseurs. Not only does the journey include bourbon distilleries, but also the rolling green hills of the countryside. The idyllic farmland has been a mecca of thoroughbred raising for generations. Nestled in the heart of Kentucky’s bluegrass and bourbon area, it is truly indicative of the state’s spirit.

Kentucky Derby Fare


The mint julep isn’t only consumed at the Derby, as many of Louisville’s posh restaurants visited by celebrities and city natives alike also serve thousands of mint juleps during the Derby season. Perhaps the most highlighted and esteemed bars for the mint julep is the historical bar in the Brown Hotel. Mint juleps have been a staple of the Brown’s menu for years. Another famous Kentucky delicacy- the Hot Brown- was created at the Brown Hotel in 1926. The dish consists of turkey, Mornay sauce {a creamy white sauce with egg and Gruyère cheese}, and tomatoes; all layered atop a bed of toast. When served with a mint julep, the duo forms a classic Kentucky Derby meal. Those interested in the history of Kentucky bluegrass thoroughbred farms and the Derby festival are likely to enjoy the Kentucky Derby Museum located at Churchill Downs.

Our Humble Role

Some say genuine bourbon is distilled only in the state of Kentucky, fed by water from one-of-a-kind limestone springs. It forms an integral part of the state’s history and international reputation. Mixer Direct supplies many of these cherished distilleries with essential equipment such as industrial mixers and tanks. Like many other industries, distilleries require a very specific type of equipment; and Mixer Direct’s staff is capable of designing custom-built systems from their years of experience in the trade. Mixer Direct has an opportunity to fulfill a small role in the development of bourbon. As the masses descend upon the city of Louisville to attend the Derby, they will be a part of a cultural experience that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.