University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino got a signature honor Tuesday: He got to hand-dip his own personalized bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon in wax.
It was the third time Pitino has done this. In 1996, when his University of Kentucky Wildcats won the national championship, the Loretto bourbon maker issued a denim blue-labeled bottle sealed with white wax. Those bottles raised $250,000 for the Daniel Pitino Foundation, which memorializes Pitino's infant son, Daniel, who died in 1987. Originally, 24,000 were produced, but Maker's ended up releasing 170,000 to meet demand.
Pitino's photo also was on the 2007 bottle commemorating "The Unforgettables," Richie Farmer, Sean Woods, Deron Feldhaus and John Pelphrey.
The 2013 limited edition honoring Pitino's national champion Louisville Cardinals is considerably more elaborate: The red-and-black bottle features Pitino's image in black and white and is sealed in black wax.
"We want to congratulate Coach Pitino on his selection for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and U of L for winning the national championship all in the same weekend," said Rob Samuels, Maker's Mark chief operating officer. "And we want to thank Coach Pitino, as well, for his partnership on this year's commemorative bottle, which will create both awareness and dollars for the Academic Center of Excellence."
The 12,600 special bottles will go on sale Friday; proceeds will go toward the $8 million U of L academic center for the entire athletic department and all student-athletes. It will feature tutorial areas, labs, offices and classrooms.
Maker's Mark began producing commemoratives for U of L's center last year, part of a three-year commitment. Louisville head football coach Charlie Strong was featured on 8,400 bottles sold in July.
Pitino and Samuels will autograph the new bottles at a special ticketed event at 5 p.m. June 13 at the KFC Yum Center. To buy $1 tickets for the signing, go to Louisville-events. cbscollegestore.com or go through Gocards.com, beginning at 10 a.m. Monday. Tickets can be picked up at the Yum Center main lobby at 4 p.m. No tickets will be sold at the door.
Bottles must be bought beforehand from retailers; no bottles will be available at the signing.
Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.