‘Bourbon,’ A Whippet, Wins Best In Show At 2020 AKC National Championship

whippet dog standing next to flowers

Capping 2020 with a knockout Best in Show at the AKC National Championship Dec. 13 in Orlando, Florida, a 5-year-old red-and-white female Whippet named “Bourbon” affirmed her legendary status as the top-winning Whippet in American Kennel Club history. MBIS/MBISS GCHP Pinnacle Kentucky Bourbon, handled by Cheslie Pickett Smithey of Sugar Valley, Georgia, topped 3,680 dogs to win her 108th Best in Show.

“Bourbon gave a beautiful performance,” Cheslie says. “She was confident, alert, attentive, and smooth. Her movement was perfect.” Graceful and elegant, Bourbon delivered a bookend year of top wins, having started 2020 by taking Reserve Best in Show and Hound Group First in February at the Westminster Kennel Club show.

Bourbon was bred by Justin Smithey, Cheslie’s husband, and Yvonne Sovereign of Sanford, North Carolina. The No. 2 dog in the country, No. 1 Hound and No. 1 Whippet all systems for two straight years is owned by Dr. Kenneth Latimer of Toano, Virginia; Judy Descutner of Hickory, Pennsylvania; Nancy Shaw of Fredericksburg, Texas; and the Smitheys.

“Bourbon was a late bloomer,” Cheslie says. “We always keep two puppies from every litter, so they can run, play and exercise together. We didn’t plan to show Bourbon, but one day I told Justin, ‘I really love this red bitch.’ He said, ‘If you think she’s so great, then you train her.’”

A shy, nervous puppy, Bourbon transformed with Cheslie’s training and socialization. The results came quickly. When Cheslie showed Bourbon in the 9- to 12-month bitch class at the American Whippet Club (AWC) Southern Specialty, Bourbon took Best in Show out of 150 Whippets. It was a hint of the future.  

Meanwhile, Bourbon was shown sparingly, while Justin campaigned her littermate brother, “Whiskey” (MBIS/MBISS GCHP Pinnacle Tennessee Whiskey), the No. 1 Hound in 2018 and No. 1 Whippet in 2017 and 2018. In 2018, Whiskey won Best in Show at the AKC National Championship, where he also took Best Bred-By in Show, and at the “National Dog Show Presented by Purina.” The pair made breed history as the first littermates to win Best of Breed at the AWC National Specialty, with Bourbon winning in 2018 and Whiskey in 2017.

Bourbon’s next steps are easing into semiretirement, only to be shown at select shows. A stint in the whelping box to produce the next generation of top-winning Pinnacle Whippets is planned as well. Bourbon and Whiskey are fed Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula dog food.