Elizabeth McCall, Master Taster and Senior Quality Control Specialist, Promoted to Assistant Master Distiller.

Woodford Reserve®, the Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby®, is proud to announce that Master Taster Elizabeth McCall has been promoted to Assistant Master Distiller, joining the ranks as one of the youngest female distillers in the U.S.

McCall has been a member of Brown-Forman’s Research & Development Department since 2009. In her new role as Assistant Master Distiller, McCall will continue working under the direction of Master Distiller Chris Morris on the innovation and the development of new products within Woodford Reserve.

“Elizabeth brings not only exceptional sensory and analytic skills to the distillery but also an inspiring passion for Woodford Reserve. I look forward to continue mentoring Elizabeth as she begins her new role of Assistant Master Distiller.”
– Chris Morris, Master Distiller

Woodford Reserve's Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall and Master Distiller, Chris Morris

Woodford Reserve’s Assistant Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall and Master Distiller, Chris Morris

Photo Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

McCall, 33, is the second generation of her family to work in the bourbon industry. She followed in her mother’s footsteps after earning her master’s degree from the University of Louisville by starting as a sensory expert and working in Brown-Forman’s R&D Department starting in 2009. As Master Taster, McCall helped develop tasting notes for various Woodford Reserve expressions. Additionally, she worked to define the sensory standard to which every batch of Woodford Reserve must comply.

“It has been the utmost pleasure to work with the Woodford Reserve team as Master Taster—and I look forward to continuing to elevate my skills and broaden my knowledge as we craft the world’s best bourbon.”
– Elizabeth McCall, Assistant Master Distiller

Elizabeth McCall micing

Elizabeth McCall

Photo Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

When Elizabeth is not using her expertise at the distillery, she is passionate about her family, horses and being involved in her community. She sits on the board of Louisville nonprofit Green Hill Therapy where her horse, Cody Ko, serves in the hippotherapy program. Elizabeth also enjoys spending quality time with her husband, Matt, and dog Beasley. Here’s what Elizabeth had to say about the Kentucky Derby and Mint Juleps.

Can you speak a bit about the 2018 Kentucky Derby Commemorative Bottle and your sponsorship of the Derby?

Bourbon and horses are so deeply intertwined in Kentucky … the same nutrient-rich water that gives great flavor and makes great bourbon is what helps horses grow to be strong athletes. It’s a joy for us to bring these two worlds together by becoming the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby.

For this year’s Derby, we’re focusing on “The Best of Kentucky.” All of our ingredients for our $1,000 Mint Julep are going to be sourced in Kentucky. This year’s bottle artist is one of Brown-Forman’s very own employees, Keith Anderson, a born and bred Kentuckian. We are sharing our Kentucky pride with the world this year, and we couldn’t be more excited!

Speaking of the Derby, any tips on making a fine Mint Julep using Woodford Reserve?

A Mint Julep is always a winner on Derby Day or any day!

I suggest that you start out with Woodford Reserve as your base spirit and build the cocktails off the flavors found in Woodford. So to add a fun twist use sorghum or honey simple syrup instead of traditional simple syrup, try different variations of mint and add different fruits such as raspberries or strawberries.

The great thing about working with a bourbon like Woodford Reserve is that it’s loaded with so many wonderful flavors that you can mix, garnish, or pair it with just about anything, and it’s going to be delicious! Another favorite of mine is Woodford Reserve Punch—It’s so simple and is a great spring/summer cocktail.

Woodford Reserve is proud to announce the 2018 $1000 Mint Julep Cup and Recipe for the 144th Kentucky Derby.

This year’s cup, recipe and experience is presented under the theme: Best of Kentucky (on what some would argue is Kentucky’s best day). The Twin Spires appear on the cup as a nod to Woodford Reserve’s inaugural year as the Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby. Running lines around the cup symbolize the limestone-filtered water*, a key ingredient that makes the best bourbon and ties bourbon and thoroughbreds together.

*Important fact about Limestone Water: Not only is the water superior for bourbon production, but it is also a key reason that thoroughbred champions are raised in Kentucky. There is no iron and the water is rich in calcium and magnesium, perfect for strengthening horses’ bones.

The cups also feature three sterling silver applications: a thoroughbred horse and jockey, a bottle of Woodford Reserve, and a rose as an ode to the “Run for the Roses™.”

The 2018 mint julep was crafted by Woodford Reserve’s newly appointed Assistant Master Distiller, Elizabeth McCall, and Master Distiller, Chris Morris. The recipe uses ingredients that can only be sourced in Kentucky including fresh mint, sorgum (a natural sweetener) and limestone water ice. The Mint Julep is garnished with three spray roses and a single rose petal from the Garland of Roses, which is draped on the winning Derby horse.

Woodford Reserve 2018 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep, cocktail with bottle, garnishes and award

Woodford Reserve 2018 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

Photo Courtesy of Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve 2018 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep 


  • 2 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • 1 tsp. Woodford County, Kentucky, Sorghum Simple Syrup
  • 2 Leaves of Kentucky Colonel Mint

Garnish: 3 spray red roses, a sprig of mint and a single rose petal from the Garland of Roses, which is draped on the winning Derby horse.

Preparation: Rub mint around the julep cup, expressing the essential oils. Add remaining ingredients and top with crushed ice made from limestone-filtered water sourced from the Woodford Reserve Distillery. Churn ingredients with a bar spoon distributing the flavor. Top with additional crushed ice and garnish.

All proceeds from the $1,000 Mint Julep Cup are benefiting the Jennifer Lawrence Arts Fund.