Booking the Perfect Custom Adventure with Mint Julep Tours – We Do It All Y’all!

Booking the Perfect Custom Adventure with Mint Julep Tours – We Do It All Y’all!

A Mint Julep Tours group visits Maker's Mark distillery where they dipped their own bourbon bottlesRecently, a guest suggested that our buses could benefit from a giant sign that reads: “We Do It All Y’All!” And while we prefer to keep our buses just the way they are, the passenger made a good point. When you spot a Mint Julep Tours bus crisscrossing the state, you may not realize that those onboard are often guests who have embarked on a made-to-order adventure. Did you know that Mint Julep Tours offers custom tours every day of the week and nearly every single day of the year? And that all of our custom tours are as unique as different batches of a tasty single-barrel bourbon? Maybe you’re interested in experiencing a bourbon tasting in the middle of a dimly-lit warehouse surrounded by thousands of barrels. Or perhaps a day that involves braving the zip lines at Louisville’s Mega Cavern and then traveling south to the Maker’s Mark distillery to tour, taste and dip a bottle in that signature red wax is more your speed. Or you might prefer an outing that combines a visit to a beautiful Kentucky thoroughbred horse farm, a leisurely upscale lunch in the town of Midway and then a stop to shop at the famed Zappos Shoe Outlet. In short, if you can imagine a specific, custom touring experience in Kentucky, Mint Julep Tours can make it happen! We are proud to be one of the top full service destination management companies in Kentucky. And the fun all begins with a phone call.

Midway was home to Kentucky's first railroadMany of the calls to Mint Julep Tours start out the same way. An excited voice on the other end of the line makes an enthusiastic yet cautious and curious declaration: “I want do the Bourbon Trail!” Each and every custom tour booking starts with a detailed conversation with one of our coordinators. Many first-time visitors to the area have endless questions based on bits of information they’ve read, a detailed inspection of our Trip Advisor reviews or second-hand stories from friends who have taken similar treks to The Kentucky Bourbon Trail ® , Horse Farms, Louisville and beyond. Our staff’s first priority is to fill in those knowledge gaps and better understand the precise type of outing our guests want to experience. From bachelor/bachelorette parties to corporate outings and everything in between, Mint Julep Tours can accommodate groups of all sizes by creating a tour with the right itinerary, length, style and tone.

Photo of a Mint Julep Tours bus at a distilleryOne common pitfall among visitors is learning the hard way that Kentucky’s geography and state routes can be a touch confusing (just ask anyone who has attempted to travel to Loretto, KY without a quality map), and the perceived distances between major distilleries are sometimes much greater than anticipated. When you book a custom tour with Mint Julep Tours, we make sure that you don’t end up spending more time in the bus than you do at the distilleries. We also work to ensure that your planned stops are the best fit for your crew. With nearly two dozen top-notch bourbon distilleries scattered throughout the state, it can be a daunting process to choose the best options for you. Those who have a soft spot in their heart for Booker’s bourbon may be surprised to learn that the product is distilled at the Jim Beam American Stillhouse. Or maybe you want to up your dinner game and enjoy a private dinner in the Stone Room at Captain’s Quarters located smack dab on the Ohio River. We can even set up private bourbon tastings for groups ranging in size from 5 to 500! But custom tours with Mint Julep Tours are so much more than just bourbon.

Over the last eight years, our buses have logged more miles on Kentucky interstates, highways and back roads than we can count. We’ve created experiences for guests at the iconic Keeneland Racecourse just outside of Lexington, sessions at The Knob Creek Gun Range and scheduled visits to both the Independent Stave Cooperage in Lebanon, KY and the Brown-Forman Cooperage next door to the Louisville International Airport. Kentucky is home to everything from Mammoth Cave to the National Corvette Museum to Abe Lincoln’s Childhood Home – all places you can visit on a Mint Julep Tours excursion as part of a custom tour.

Statue at Falls of the OhioIn 2015, Louisville was named among the “Friendliest Cities in America” by Travel + Leisure Magazine and we’ve helped guests experience that first hand. We’ve booked reservations at iconic Churchill Down’s Turf Club and set up tours at new attractions making waves like brandy distillery Copper & Kings. Mint Julep Tours can take you to the Falls of The Ohio State Park, Schimpff’s Confectionery, Bourbon Barrel Foods or we can even take you bowling at Vernon Lanes! If you want to go even further off the beaten path, we’ve set up Segway Races (complete with obstacle course, of course) and scavenger hunts that will have your group scurrying madly across town. Our staff can suggest the perfect restaurants and hotel as well as book reservations when needed. If you’re more interested in exploring some of the best Louisville has to offer, you’ll be hard pressed to find a staff that knows Derby City better.

A custom adventure with Mint Julep Tours is so much more than just bus a ride around Kentucky. Combine the strength of a custom tour with our professional, knowledgeable and award-winning Mint Julep Tours guides and drivers, and you’ve got the recipe for one amazing day…or maybe more! We may book tours, but we specialize in creating custom experiences and one-of-a-kind memories. And that’s why we believe “the purpose of fun is to have some.” Want to get started? The fun starts with a phone call to Mint Julep Tours today.

As one of Kentucky’s top destination management company, Mint Julep Tours can create an itinerary for the perfect custom. Call 502-583-1433 or visit us online today to begin planning your adventure.

Kentucky’s Exploding Culinary Scene

Kentucky’s Exploding Culinary Scene

For years, Kentucky’s best known restaurant was a charming little place called The Beaumont Inn. Located in historic Harrodsburg, The Beaumont lays claim to being the state’s oldest family-operated bed & breakfast. The quaint main dining room has been serving timeless Bluegrass classics liked fried chicken and country ham since 1845. But just as the number of bourbon distilleries has boomed in recent years, so has the number of innovative, ground breaking Kentucky restaurants. Today, new highly touted dining spots are drawing crowds to Louisville, Midway, Lexington and beyond. Each one fronted by ambitious, young executive chefs who are redefining both the culinary landscape and the menu. And the accolades from national publications are starting to pile up. Travel + Leisure magazine recently added Louisville to their list of “America’s Best Cities for foodies”, while Thrillist named Derby City their “Best Up-and-Coming Food City.” Simply put: Kentucky is becoming a destination for foodies. But to find the very best that the state has to offer, visitors often need a sense of adventure. And a pretty good sense of direction.

Chef Ed Lee“You sure this is right?” The guide let out a light laugh as he pulled the bus around another corner in Old Louisville. He had heard similar expressions of concern from guests on this drive many times before. “Yeah, I’m sure.” On a block filled with Victorian homes, one neighbor gave the bus what could only be described as the stink eye. The guide stopped right in front of a non-descript square building: Chef Edward Lee’s 610 Magnolia Restaurant, what very well may be the most unassuming fine-dining location on earth. Critically acclaimed 610 Magnolia is well known for their six-course pre-fixe meal served Wednesday through Saturday evenings. With intimate seating for only 50, the food served in this smart casual hideaway may be best described as Southern by way of Brooklyn by way of Korea. In fact, you could describe Chef Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia’s proprietor and Louisville’s own Food Network Iron Chef, in a very similar way. Lee has joked that he came to Kentucky to attend the Derby and then stayed to open a restaurant. These days, Lee has two dining spots. Milkwood, directly underneath Actor’s Theater on Main Street in Louisville, offers a more casual environment and the perfect subterranean escape from the bustle of downtown.

 

Wagner'sIf you want to eschew dinner for a hearty breakfast, then your itinerary should call for a pilgrimage to Wagner’s. The location, known as Wagner’s Pharmacy until they stopped issuing prescriptions in 2014, sits in the shadow of Churchill Downs and the building is every bit as modest as 610 Magnolia. While dining, you’ll share tables with thoroughbred jockeys, spot locals seeking out daily racing forms, and chat with horse trainers dropping in to pick up a mane comb or ointment. But don’t let all the activity distract you from the food. Esquire magazine honored Wagner’s in 2009 as “One Of The Best Places to Eat Breakfast in America.” Wagner’s, which opened way back in 1922, gained a bit of national attention when Chef Bobby Flay famously threw down (and lost) in a televised competition centered around omelets. Most of the staff just shrugs off the adulation, but Flay quickly learned what locals had known for decades – no one in the country makes better omelets than Wagner’s.

Woodford ReserveWith a growing number of amazing restaurants, it’s unlikely that you’ll go hungry in Louisville. Food options at bourbon distilleries throughout Kentucky, however, have always been a bit more limited. In fact, among the state’s major distilleries, less than half of them have lunch spots that allow guests to dine on premise. And, of those, only Woodford Reserve can boast a “Chef-In-Residence.” Glenn’s Creek Café, located inside the distillery’s visitors center, is the brain child of a chef who is leaving her mark all over the state: Ouita Michel.

 
Wallace StationChef Michel started turning heads when she opened the Holly Hill Inn in tiny Midway over 15 years ago. Today, she currently operates five restaurants and a bakery in locations that span three Kentucky counties. Each restaurant is tucked away behind a horse farm or down a narrow country road. Visitors at Wallace Station often enjoy lunch outside over a game of horseshoes usually unaware they are dining less than half a mile from the 1825 birthplace of Zerelda James, notorious matriarch to the James Gang. Windy Corner Market literally sits at a cross roads wedged on a small piece of land between large horse farms. In the spring, you’re likely to see young foals lounging beside the fence between bites of your Shady Lane Chicken Salad. All of Chef Michel’s restaurants are distinctly different from one another. And each one comes complete with a staff that could not be more warm and welcoming. And if that wasn’t enough, Ouita Michel was just named a 2016 James Beard Award Semi-finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur of the Year!

Sometimes the best meals in Kentucky are waiting for you just down a road that you might otherwise look past. To sample the very best dishes, visitors must to explore beyond the ubiquitous Hot Brown, the somewhat mysterious Burgoo, and Derby Pie. Plan a visit to see Kentucky’s legendary distilleries, horse farms and more. But make sure you schedule some time to slow down and eat. You’ll quickly discover for yourself why Zagat named Louisville one of America’s Next Hot Food Cities. And it has absolutely nothing to do with a certain famous Colonel.

Mint Julep Tours regularly visits a number of local, independently owned restaurants throughout the state as part of several of our tours. Mint Julep Tours can also create a custom itinerary for a Private Custom tour that includes a stop for lunch or dinner at nearly any Kentucky restaurant of your choosing. Hours and availability may vary depending on day or time of year. Call 502-583-1433 or visit us online for more information and to book a tour today!

A further look at The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® and Bourbon County’s Hartfield & Co Distillery

A further look at The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® and Bourbon County’s Hartfield & Co Distillery 

As you cruise down Paris, Kentucky’s Main Street, you quickly realize that the bourbon distillery you’ve come to visit is actually right in the heart of horse country. Paris has earned their motto of “Thoroughbred Capital of the World” due to the town’s proximity to world class horse farms such as Claiborne, Normandy, Adena Springs and more. And despite the fact that Paris sits smack dab in the middle of Bourbon County, the county itself wasn’t the home to an operational distillery for nearly 100 years. But that changed in July of 2014 when the government awarded a license to Hartfield & Co. to distill whiskey. Situated in a modest downtown store front, just around the corner from Kentucky’s own replica Eiffel Tower, Hartfield & Co. is now open for business and welcoming tourists. The new whiskey producer is also the latest addition to the ever expanding list of distilleries that make up The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.

Hartfield & Co.Many distilleries on the Craft Trail have chosen a similar approach to Hartfield & Co. when it comes to location. Often independently owned, these businesses opt for cozy spaces rather than the sprawling and historic campuses typical of more established distilleries. Location, however, is about all they have in common. A noble goal for any bourbon aficionado, the voyage to hit all 10 stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour will definitely add some miles to your odometer. For example, the trek between the furthest two stops (The Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville, KY and MB Roland Distillery in Pembroke, KY) will take about four and a half hours of driving down highways and country roads. But remote locations reward visitors with small and intimate experiences. Not only will you enjoy a tour that tends to showcase every single step of the bourbon making process, but you’ll often find yourself chatting up a co-owner or lead distiller. That’s an experience that’s nearly impossible to replicate at the larger distilleries.

Hartfield & Co. (known for a brief spell as The Gentleman) is the first distillery in Bourbon County since 1919. At the turn of the last century, small whiskey distilleries littered the region. But Prohibition shuttered them all; not a single location in the county reopened once the so-called Noble Experiment was repealed in 1933. Fast forward to today where Hartfield & Co. is quickly making waves. Co-owners Andrew Buchanan and Curtis Mackley saw the ironic lack of Bourbon in Bourbon County as both a problem and an opportunity. Neither had a background in alcohol production, distribution, chemistry or even a stint behind the counter at a local liquor store. But the distillery’s small size provided the pair the opportunity to learn on the job and be nimble with their operations. Since opening, they have tweaked everything from their whiskey product mash bill to the company’s name. The distillery officially joined The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Distillery Tour on October 19th, 2015. But the real celebration at Hartfield & Co. came in December when updated Bourbon Trail Passports, which included their location as an official stop, arrived in the mail.

1.28.16 Photo 2Hartfield & Co. focuses on their small batch whiskey and craft spirits. They embrace a simple design on their labels and bottle. The distillery is confident that the contents inside the bottle will win over drinkers without colorful marketing on the outside. While the bourbon at Hartfield & Co. is aging to maturity in racks, the company continues to distill whiskey, white whiskey, gin, and Apple Pie Rum with plenty of samples to go around. The staff’s warmth and enthusiasm to guests who drop in matches their demeanor towards long lost relatives. The friendly, passionate and welcoming atmosphere makes a trip to Hartfield & Co. feel more like meeting up with a group of old friends who also happen to be running a bourbon distillery. But beware—this is a primary hazard of the Craft Distillery Tour: after a few stops coupled with a few sips of liquid inspiration, you might decide that you and your friends have the time, resources, and know-how to start your own distillery.

Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour Julep CupIt seems that every few weeks, another announcement of plans for a new distillery makes the news. Press releases come from everywhere in the state ranging from the tiny town of Franklin, KY to Shelby County. Coming off a record year of visitors, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Distillery Tour certainly has the promise of continued growth and perhaps even the potential to double in size within a few years. But if you need one more reason to start planning your adventure now, then consider the one-of-a-kind keepsake you will receive once you complete the trail. After celebrating your visit with a stamp in your bourbon passport at all 10 locations, you’ll be the new owner of a beautifully engraved julep cup—a collectible that is more trophy than drinking vessel. Each and every distillery on the craft trail offers a unique history, a beautiful space to view, and of course, a delicious spirit to taste. With a little ambition and a little gas in the tank, you can visit all the locations in no time. Your new favorite bottle of bourbon (or moonshine) may be just around the bend. So, you better get started. That bourbon trail passport isn’t going to stamp itself.

Hartfield & Co., A Bourbon County Distillery, is located at 718 Main St. Paris, KY 40361. The distillery offers both a short “City Tour” Tuesdays through Fridays and an hour long “Country Tour” Saturdays at 6:00 PM. Call 859-559-3494to make reservations and for more info. Mint Julep Tours is an official sponsor of both The Kentucky Bourbon Trail and The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour®. Stops at almost any of the 10 distilleries on the craft tour can be included on a personalized, custom tour with Mint Julep Tours. Hours vary at many of the locations and availability may sometimes be limited. Call 502-583-1433 or e-mail info@MintJulepTours.com to book a tour today!

Mint Julep Tours Announces Office Relocation, Expansion

Mint Julep Tours Announces Office Relocation, Expansion

Louisville, Kentucky – Mint Julep Tours, a local business that is a recognized leader in tours, transportation, and special events throughout Kentucky, is excited to announce it will be moving its offices and vehicle garage to a new larger property located at 1631 Mellwood Ave. Eyedia, a local furniture and home décor consignment store previously occupied the space. In addition to the 7,000 square ft. building, Mint Julep Tours will also be constructing a new garage on the property to house it’s rapidly expanding fleet of buses and vehicles.

According to Mint Julep Tours co-founder and owner, Sean Higgins, the move was necessary due to the significant growth the company has seen since its inception. “As the bourbon and tourism industries in Kentucky have grown, so have we. It was time that we made a move that allowed us to continue to expand and grow. We’re extremely excited about this new space and can’t wait for the opportunities that will come along with it.”

The new location sits near the intersection of Mellwood and Frankfort Ave., right off the I-64 exit ramp and directly across from Apocalypse Brewery. Higgins said the new location is exactly what they were looking for. “We’re thrilled to have been able to find a location that both serves our needs as a business and also keeps us close to the downtown core. There is so much going on in that area and along Frankfort Ave., which makes this move all that much more exciting.”

Map to Mint Julep Tours OfficeMint Julep Tours was able to secure a Louisville Metropolitan Business Development Corp., (METCO) loan to assist in the expansion costs. These loans are focused on small businesses in the Louisville economy that are looking to expand and grow their business. WorK Architecture + Design is the lead design firm that will handle the project. The new space is projected to be complete by Spring-2016.

Tours will continue to depart from the MJT Gift Shop, located in the Galt House Hotel (Rivue Tower), 140 N. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky 40202.

ABOUT MINT JULEP TOURS
Mint Julep Tours is a recognized leader in Bourbon and Kentucky adventures as well as the only dedicated tour company focused on The Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.  Based in Louisville, Kentucky they offer Custom and Public Bourbon Distillery Tours as well as unique Exclusive Experiences, Horse Farm Tours, Culinary Tours, and Louisville City Tours. As a truly one-of-a-kind tour company, Mint Julep Tours also offers transportation and event planning services with a focus on Special Events, Corporate Outings and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties. Specialty horse and bourbon-related gifts are available at the Mint Julep Tours retail store inside the Galt House on the third floor of the Rivue Tower at 140 North 4th Street Suite 326, Louisville, KY 40202.

For more information: visit www.mintjuleptours.com, call 502-583-1433, or email info@mintjuleptours.com

Kentucky Road

Welcoming American Pharoah To His Permanent Kentucky Home

Earlier this month, just as the New Year was starting, American Pharoah blissfully celebrated his fourth birthday. American Pharoah wasn’t alone in celebrating since every Thoroughbred horse in the Northern Hemisphere shares the same birthday regardless on when they were actually born: January 1st. But while all thoroughbreds age on the same day, absolutely none of them came close to having the year that American Pharoah did in 2015.

Halloween Day of 2015 is one that most Kentuckians are likely going to remember for a very, very long time. It was just after 6:00 PM during the final event of the 13 separate races that make up the legendary Breeder’s Cup, when 50,155 spectators watched American Pharoah soar across the finish line. As jockey Victor Espinoza turned to give the finish line camera a knowing smile, history had been written in horse racing. American Pharoah became the very first stallion ever in history to…well, you know the rest. But the most interesting part of American Pharoah’s story is what the next chapter of his life has in store for the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

In early November, Bob Baffert, who has earned his place on the Mt. Rushmore of horse trainers, walked American Pharoah one last time. Baffert slowly led the horse to the barn at the Ashford Stud Horse Farm with promises of frequent trips to visit this once in a life time thoroughbred. And, ever the amiable horse, Pharoah was eager to pose for photos next to his new home. After all, these are some nice digs and a fantastic set up! His days of traveling across the country, endless rigorous training, and more are now all behind him. Instead, he’s currently enjoying acres and acres of fenced in Bluegrass beauty. For the last two months, American Pharoah has been settling into his new, permanent Kentucky home.

Ashford Stud FarmThe Ashford Stud farm, like many in the region, has extensive ties to both politics and bourbon. The farm, which has grown exponentially in size over the years, was first established as a cattle farm by Colonel Edmund Taylor. Taylor was the grandnephew of 12th President Zachary Taylor and mayor of nearby Frankfort, Kentucky for 16 years. But Taylor is probably most well-known for opening the nearby Old Taylor Distillery in the 1880’s and his likeness adorns a brand of bourbon today. Over the last 40 years, some of the finest stallions in the world have called Ashford Stud home. Pharoah certainly won’t be lonely in his comfortable surroundings. There are over 400 horse farms throughout the state and nearly 150 in nearby Fayette County. And if American Pharoah wants to take a day trip to visit his sire, 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, dear old dad lives just less than 15 minutes away. At his new home, he’ll join 12 other legendary and beautiful stallions that are currently studding. American Pharoah can trade glory stories about the first Saturday in May as he chews the hay with fellow Kentucky Derby Winners Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and Thunder Gulch (1995).

The farm is a relatively easy destination to reach. Situated just a few miles south of I-64 and located smack dab between the towns of Versailles and Frankfort makes it in an ideal location for tourists. In fact, the backside of the farm is just a stone’s throw from the iconic Labrot and Graham Distillery, which has been home to Woodford Reserve bourbon since the mid 1990’s.

So, how do admirers from coast to coast go about getting up close and personal with the first grand slam champion? Opportunity to visit is limited and time is short before American Pharoah scheduled set to begin his breeding season in Mid-February. Mint Julep Tours has partnered with our friends at The Kentucky Derby Museum for “American Pharoah – A Champions Tour.” The day-long guided tour includes a trip to Churchill Downs where guests experience “The Greatest Race,” enjoy a Historic Walking Tour of the Churchill Downs racetrack, and a stop in The Finish Line Gift Shop featuring American Pharoah merchandise. Then it’s off to Coolmore’s Ashford Stud Farm for a day with horse racing legends past and present, including American Pharoah. Many dates are sold out, but tickets remain for tours on January 21st, 25th, and 28th. More information and online booking here.

Churchill Downs StatueChurchill Downs Tour with Twin SpiresAmerican Pharoah at Coolmore Ashford Stud FarmAshford Stud Farm

If you chose to embark on a tour out to Woodford County, there are a few things to keep in mind when touring Ashford Stud or any working horse farm. First, you should know that very few of the horse farms have opened their front gates to visitors in the same way that the Bourbon Distilleries have in recent years. A handful of farms offer regularly scheduled, public tours, but most tours are private and need to be set up well in advance. When visiting, photos are almost always welcome, but keep those hands to yourself. A horse’s temperament can vary wildly from stallion to stallion. Nothing ruins a nice day in horse country liked being kicked or bitten. And don’t expect to saddle up, hop on and go for a ride; remember that it’s a working farm not the county fair. Another good rule of thumb is to dress for a day at the farm. Opt for comfy clothes and sturdy shoes; leave fashionable Derby day outfits behind. Finally, while the view is often worth the visit alone, many farms don’t exactly have state-of-the-art restrooms or much less a gift shop.

American Pharoah Tour2016 marks the beginning of the next chapter of American Pharoah’s life. It is absolutely thrilling that this amazing horse is going to be right in our own Kentucky back yard welcoming visitors for years to come. American Pharoah has earned the mantle of an once-in-a-lifetime horse on the track and Mint Julep Tours is delighted for the opportunity to bring guests from around the country to show up and say, “Thanks for everything.”

Mint Julep Tour’s “American Pharoah- A Champion’s Tour” includes a visit to the Kentucky Derby Museum for two floors of interactive exhibits, newly updated 360° immersive sound and visual experience “The Greatest Race”, Historic Walking Tour of Churchill Downs Racetrack and a stop in The Finish Line Gift Shop featuring American Pharoah merchandise. Then it’s off to Coolmore America’s Ashford Stud Farm for a day with horse racing legends past and present, including grand slam champion American Pharoah. Note that Ashford Stud does their best to let fans see American Pharoah and other champions, however, no guarantees can be made for any particular tour- shows are pending the health and welfare of the animals.

Call 502-583-1433 or visit www.mintjuleptours.com to book your spot today!