Want a Tubby Maker’s Mark bottle? You’re going to have to jump through hoops

The label for the 2018 Kentucky Wildcats championship Maker’s Mark bottle will feature a jubilant Tubby Smith. The label was approved by federal alcohol trade regulators in February.
The label for the 2018 Kentucky Wildcats championship Maker’s Mark bottle will feature a jubilant Tubby Smith. The label was approved by federal alcohol trade regulators in February.

Will Kentucky fans finally give Tubby some love?

Maker’s Mark is, with the release of its first bottle with the former University of Kentucky coach on it.

Keeneland is expecting a big crowd for the signing of the Maker’s Mark commemorative bottles on April 13, the day of the annual horse race sponsored by Maker’s Mark, the Maker’s 46 Mile.

The track announced that for the first time tickets for the signing will be distributed online.

That’s right. You have to go to the Keeneland website just to get tickets for a spot to get in a line to have your two 2018 Maker’s Mark commemorative bottles signed.

This year’s bottle will celebrate the 1998 champions coached by Tubby Smith; apparently Maker’s Mark didn’t do one at the time.

An announcement is expected later this month about who will be at the racetrack to sign the historic bottle.

Members of the team included Nazr Mohammed, Scott Padgett, Allen Edwards, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner, Cameron Mills, Jamaal Magloire, Steve Masiello, Michael Bradley, Myron Anthony, Ryan Hogan, Heshimu Evans and Saul Smith.

The bottle’s label shows a victorious Smith holding aloft the championship net. Again, it’s an all-white bottle, dipped in blue wax with a blue UK.

It’s the fourth in a five-year series that celebrates Kentucky’s championships. Previous versions celebrated Adoph Rupp, Joe B. Hall and the 1996 team coached by Rick Pitino. The final one next year will feature John Calipari’s 2012 team.

While last year’s label ostensibly honored Pitino, the label showed only players and not the man, who was already embroiled in scandals at the University of Louisville. Pitino has since been fired, and, ironically, so was Smith.

So, will Smith return to Kentucky for the bottle signing? The invitation has been extended but there has been no announcement about whether he will come. UK said the details are still being finalized.

The bottles go on sale April 6 at retail outlets throughout Kentucky. Usually there more than 10,000 available for about $55. No bottles will be sold at Keeneland.

You can go online at 8:30 a.m. April 9 to reserve an e-ticket for the bottle signing, which is April 13. Keeneland is strongly encouraging people to go online to before April 9 to set up an account. The tickets don’t guarantee you a specific spot in the line and they are not transferable. You’ll need a photo idea to claim your spot.

As in previous years, fans can line up overnight on April 12 at the Keeneland Entertainment Center. Ticket holders must be in line by 7:30 a.m., April 13 to ensure bottles will be signed. Participants must be 21 years of age or older.

The bottles have raised millions of dollars for a range of causes. The five UK championship commemoratives and a related corporate challenge will raise $4 million for an expansion of the Center for Academic and Tutorial Services for athlete at the University of Kentucky.

Dates to remember

▪  April 6: The day the Maker’s Mark 1998 championship bottles go on sale; usually there more than 10,000 available for about $55.

▪  8:30 a.m., April 9: The day you can reserve an e-ticket for the bottle signing at Keeneland. The track recommends going online before to create an account, which you’ll need to order the tickets, which are free.

▪  6 p.m., April 12: Fans can start lining up for spots to have two bottles (and only two of the 2018 bottles) signed. You will need a photo ID to claim your spot. Tickets are not transferable.

▪  April 13: The day of the bottle signing and the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland.