Calipari the next face of Maker’s Mark bottle series


Maker’s Mark dedicated a limited edition bottle to UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari to raise money for the UK Symphony Orchestra at Singletary Center on Monday, March 1, 2010. Photo by Scott Hannigan

The face of UK basketball head coach John Calipari will be the next found on a bourbon bottle.

Representatives from Maker’s Mark, UK and Keeneland unveiled the fifth Maker’s Mark bottle design to honor UK athletics Monday afternoon.

The bottle, the second of a three-year bottle series to create an endowment for the UK Symphony Orchestra’s outreach program, will feature Calipari on the label.

The program focuses on bringing the UK School of Music performing groups into Kentucky public schools throughout the state, according to its Web site.

“When they said that (the Symphony Orchestra) would reach out and touch children, I knew there was nothing better,” Calipari said.

Bill Samuels, president of Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey, said the goal is to raise $1.5 to 2 million for the endowment and expects profits from this design to exceed $300,000, all of which will be donated to the endowment.

UK President Lee Todd said the endowment plan is important because some Kentucky school districts do not have the financial resources to introduce students to some creative performances.

“We know how critical exposure to music and the arts is to success in the classroom,” Todd said.

John Nardolillo, director of the UK Symphony Orchestra, said it is encouraging for students to see someone with the visibility and profile of Calipari supporting a program they are a part of.

“It helps get the word out that students in the orchestra are doing something important,” Nardolillo said. “Not just to them, but to people all over the state.”

The outreach program started this year with the orchestra playing in Ashland, Ky., Nardolillo said, and the orchestra has planned to perform at four more venues this year, including shows in Maysville, Leitchfield, Whitesburg and Loretto, Ky.

Calipari is fitting for the face of the new bottle, Todd said.

“In less than a year, coach Calipari has changed the direction of UK’s basketball program,” he said. “He lifted the spirits of the people of the Big Blue Nation.”

People can purchase the 24,000 limited-edition bottles statewide April 2.