Back in 2008 when bourbon tourism was still in its infancy, Lisa and Sean Higgins founded Mint Julep Tours, the first of its kind tourism service dedicated to Kentucky’s Native Spirit. Since then the bourbon tourism landscape has changed significantly. Whereas it was once an afterthought, something you might do if you had other business in Kentucky, now people are actually planning bourbon country getaways.
As bourbon tourism has evolved, so have the offerings from Mint Julep Tours. As their fleet has grown from one bus to now 10 vehicles, their tour options have gotten creative. While you can still work with this Destination Management Company to make your perfect personalized trip, they now offer exclusive events and tours that no one else can. For example, this is the only company that can introduce you to Triple Crown Champ American Pharaoh. Here are some of the exclusive experiences scheduled for 2016:
A Champions Tour with Mint Julep Tours stops first at The Kentucky Derby Museum, where guests can learn all about the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports. Then guests are taken to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, land once owned by Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. Though there is no guarantee guests will see American Pharaoh- consideration is always first given to the welfare of the animals – this is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to tour the stud barns and learn about the thoroughbred horse racing industry. The 2016 tour dates are March 11, March 24, April 4, April 13, May 12, May 19, and May 25. The cost per person is $139 and the tour departs at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 6 p.m.
Derby Eve Distilled is an exclusive bourbon and culinary collaboration between Mint Julep Tours and Buffalo Trace Distillery which takes place Friday, May 6, the night before Derby 142. This event includes a private after-hours tour of the distillery, dinner in the beautiful Elmer T. Lee Clubhouse, 2 signature cocktails, and after-dinner cigars on the porch (guests who do not want cigars can opt for a mini Julep cup). There are two ticketing options – one with transportation from The Galt House in downtown Louisville and one without. Tickets are $289 and $239 per person, respectively. The bus departs The Galt House at 3:45 p.m. and returns at 10 p.m., or guests can meet at the Buffalo Trace Visitor’s Center at 4:45 p.m.
Secrets of Louisville Chefs showcases the breadth and versatility of Louisville’s culinary talent. Long before it was known for bourbon tourism, Louisville was known for a vast and varying landscape of restaurants featuring many different culinary genres. Mint Julep Tours is the only place you can buy tickets to the taping of this show, which takes place Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bourbon Barrel Foods in the Butchertown neighborhood of Louisville. Each session includes the taping of two shows with two different chefs. Guests will have the opportunity to try the foods prepared on the show after the taping. Tickets are $60 each. Dates include March 12, April 9, May 21, June 18, and July 16.
Hope to see y’all in Louisville this year! Cheers!
Maggie Kimberl is a bourbon writer focusing on bourbon culture and tourism in Louisville and Kentucky. When she's not covering the bourbon beat you can find her browsing through vintage vinyl with her kids or tending to her homegrown tomatoes. Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/LouGirl502 Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lougirl502/ and check out her blog LouGirl502.com.