Lexington, KY

78 Legends: University of Kentucky Men's Basketball Bourbon Release

JC Phelps

If I were to ask you to list the iconic fixtures of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, you would undoubtedly mention both bourbon and basketball. What would happen, say, if these two icons collaborated? That hypothetical was explored and executed by University of Kentucky Men's Basketball royalty. The result? The 78 Legends release of an iconic, limited-edition bourbon. 

If you are looking for the star of your bourbon shelf, look no further.

78 Legends Release Iconic Bourbon

Photo by78 Legends

How does a release of this nature - one that will certainly go down in Kentucky bourbon history - come to fruition? One of the industry's greatest connectors, Andrew Varga - President of AV Train Strategy and Marketing Consulting, knew there was power in connecting the craze of Kentucky bourbon with the iconic lore of University of Kentucky Men's Basketball.

In a sit-down interview with Varga, we agreed that the beauty of Kentucky is rooted in tradition and connections. We are rich in culture, pride, and fandom - and Varga knew that the 78 Legends could take that to the next level.

About the 78 Legends

The 78 Legends are comprised of three members of the 1978 NCAA® Championship team from the University of Kentucky: #21 - Jack "Goose" Givens, #53 - Rick Robey, and #4 - Kyle Macy. In 1798, Kentucky won its fifth national title in the championship game, denying Duke its first. The Wildcats were led by Jack Givens, who won Most Outstanding Player after scoring 41 points in the title game. Famed coach Joe B. Hall, of Cynthiana, led Kentucky.

The three 78 Legends are some of the most-loved Kentucky players of all time. Throughout their careers, they have remained humble, loyal, and faithful to Big Blue Nation and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For that reason, among many others, they receive the adoration of Kentuckians from Paducah to Pikeville, Covington to Lake Cumberland.

Fun fact: the jersey numbers of the three legends - 21, 53, 4 - add up to 78 when summed, the year they won the famed NCAA® Championship.

Photo by78 Legends

About the 78 Legends Bourbon

A mind-blowing realization: a portion of this bourbon was resting in the barrel when the Wildcats won the 78 National Championship. How cool is that? The 78 Legends Bourbon is an artfully-blended 5-year and 50-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that honors the players and coaches of the Kentucky 1978 NCAA® Basketball National Championship team. 

Photo by78 Legends

The bourbon was created in an exclusive partnership with Kentucky Artisan Distillery. I had the opportunity to chat with Jade Peterson, their Master Distiller, about the release.

"It took over a year to look at the different blends, proofs, profiles, and bourbons. Ultimately, (78 Legends Bourbon) mixes old-school Kentucky tradition with new-school Kentucky bourbon."
Jade Peterson, Master Distiller - Kentucky Artisan Distillery
Photo byJCP Eats

I had the pleasure of attending the release of the 78 Legends Bourbon at the Frazier in Downtown Louisville, KY. At the event, I got to meet the three legends + Peterson of Kentucky Artisan Distillery. Peterson joined the legends on stage for a conversation about the bourbon, the University of Kentucky, and memories from the 1978 season. The discussion was facilitated by the University of Kentucky's leading scorer of all time, Dan Issel.

Photo byJCP Eats

78 Legends Bourbon Tasting Notes

  • Aroma: Layers of leather, oak, and smoke with hints of vanilla sweetness - followed by a dash of freshly-fallen leaves.
  • Taste: The front end of your palate is greeted with toasted oak, boldly spiced pear, and fig - followed by a warm back-end flavor consisting of strong oak, star anise, and subtle hints of caramel.
  • The bourbon will give you a warm mouth feel with a lingering "Kentucky Hug" - not too bold, but firm, just as it should be.

Snag a bottle and experience the tasting notes for yourself here. 

Photo byJCP Eats

78 Legends Bourbon Facts

  • Each bottle is dipped in Kentucky blue wax and signed exclusively by Kyle Macy, Jack "Goose" Givens, and Rick Robey.
  •  Only 1978 bottles were produced.
  •  Each bottle is numbered 1-1978 and packaged in a custom wooden tongue and grooved display case.
Photo by78 Legends

How to Purchase the 78 Legends Bourbon

  • You can purchase one of the limited bottles of the 78 Legends Bourbon here. If you want it, I encourage you to grab one now -- with only 1978 bottles in existence, this release will not last long.
  •  Purchase Price: you guessed it - $1,978.
Photo by78 Legends

We've had our eyes on the 78 Legends for over four decades - it'll be interesting to see what's next for them...

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JC Phelps is a Kentucky-based food + southern lifestyle writer.

Louisville, KY

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