Keith Anderson in his studio | Courtesy of Brown-Forman

Last year, Louisville native Keith Anderson made history by becoming the first African-American artist to have his work featured on a special Woodford Reserve Derby bottle, and he was the first-ever Brown-Forman employee to do so as well.

This year, Anderson’s art will once again grace the limited-edition bottle, scoring even more accolades for the man who first became interested in painting as a child and now pursues it as a hobby, stress-reliever and creative outlet.

Anderson has worked at Brown-Forman’s Bourbon Street Café for more than a dozen years, and a few years ago he got the courage to approach Senior Vice President Mark Bacon to ask how he could get his art on the Derby bottle. That bold move paid off, as Bacon took a look at Anderson’s work and instantly was impressed.

“Sometimes we overlook the very talent that’s right in front of us,” Bacon said in a news release last year.

The 2019 Woodford Reserve Derby bottle

Anderson says the idea for this year’s bottle art came to him while he was attending the Kentucky Derby, watching the horses speed by.

“Their sheer power, their colors and the jockeys are seared into my mind — and now featured on the bottle,” he explains in a news release.

Anderson tells Insider his main goal was to impress the Brown-Forman executives and add more color and excitement to the art as well. He was both surprised and excited when his art was chosen for a second time.

He says he paints in his basement studio every day, and he first got his start when he was 9 years old. Getting to paint an image for Derby — one of his favorite times of the year — was just icing on the cake.

“Being from Louisville, I love all the excitement it brings and the attention that Louisville gets,” says Anderson. “The whole experience of Derby, including the week leading up to the Derby and the social aspect it brings for people, is something special to Louisville.”

We had to ask Anderson if he prefers people open up and enjoy his bottle of Woodford Reserve, or if they should keep it sealed and collect it. His answer, we’re assuming, will make the Brown-Forman execs proud.

“Drink and collect — get one to look at and one to drink. You can never have too many,” he says.

The 2019 Woodford Kentucky Derby bottle hits shelves nationwide and globally this month with a suggested retail price of $43.99.

It’ll also be part of a new exhibit at the Frazier History Museum that features all 20 Woodford Reserve Derby bottles, titled “Woodford Reserve & the Kentucky Derby: Two Decades of Artistry, Bourbon and Horse Racing.” The exhibit, which also features the original artworks used to design the labels and other artifacts, opens Wednesday, March 20.

We caught up with Anderson to ask him some very important questions …

Earth, Wind & Fire!

What was your first concert?

Earth, Wind & Fire with my sister when I was 10.

What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

Art.

What job would you be terrible at?

I can’t fail, I would always give it my all.

What is your favorite restaurant or bar?

Bonefish Grill or R Place Pub.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once?

Go to the beach — Panama City Beach is my favorite.

Where would you direct a newcomer of Louisville to get a feel for the city?

I would suggest the downtown area and visiting the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Kentucky Peerless is one of eight distilleries in downtown Louisville. | Courtesy of Kentucky Peerless

What keeps you here?

My family and my job.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."