UK fans, get in line: Maker’s Mark will release its limited edition commemorative bottle featuring former Wildcat basketball coach Joe B. Hall on Friday morning. Only 11,000 bottles will be available at retail outlets around Kentucky for about $55 each.
The blue and white bottle is the second in a series of five honoring the coaches who won national championships. Last year featured legendary coach Adolph Rupp. The series hopes to raise $2 million for the University of Kentucky Center for Academic and Tutorial Services, which will open this summer in the new football training complex next to Commonwealth Stadium.
Hall coached the 1977-78 team that won the school’s fifth national championship. He has been invited to the traditional bottle signing at Keeneland at 7:30 a.m. April 15 in advance of the Maker’s 46 Mile, but it isn’t certain Hall will be there.
Four members of the 1978 championship team — Jack Givens, James Lee, Kyle Macy and Rick Robey — will be on hand to sign bottles, along with Bill and Rob Samuels of Maker’s Mark, and Bill Thomason of Keeneland.
No bottles will be for sale at the track. Only the Joe B. Hall Maker’s Mark bottles will be signed.
The signing will be at the Keene Barn Entertainment Center; for tickets and more details about the bottle signing, go to Keeneland.com/calendar/makers-mark-bottle-signing. Up to 1,200 tickets will be distributed, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday. Ticket holders must be in line by 6:30 a.m. Friday for guaranteed signatures; two bottles per ticket holder will be signed.
Future bottles in the series will honor the championships won in 1996, coached by Rick Pitino; 1998, coached by Tubby Smith; and 2012, coached by John Calipari.
Keeneland also has established a fundraising challenge to other businesses by pledging to contribute $20,000 a year for five years.