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Many people claim to be bourbon experts. Did you know there’s a certification program to prove it? The Stave & Thief Society is an in-depth training program for the world of American whiskey. Mint Julep Tours is proud to have more than a dozen Stave & Thief certified bourbon stewards on staff. They span all aspects of our business from tour leaders and drivers to experience coordinators, management and behind the scenes staff. Congratulations to Larry Bauer, Mark Clark, Ron Ellingsworth, Dan Farris, Chasta Feller, Bruce Gambrell, Rachel Goldenberg, Riley Higgins, Brendan Higgins, Sean Higgins, Tara Hornbeck, Phil Kollin, Charlie Ratliff and Charlie Robbins for joining the prestigious ranks of Stave & Thief Society members. This makes Mint Julep Tours one of largest member establishments of the society. (Update 11/21/2017: Welcome Lisa Higgins, Cheyanne Michael, Tom Romano and John Swisshelm to the list of certified bourbon stewards!)

What Is A Certified Bourbon Steward?

Stave & Thief Society Coin and Logo Bourbon Barrel

Much like a sommelier or cicerone title, being a certified bourbon steward reflects a superior education in a specialized field. Our tour leaders studied Stave & Thief Society’s text book and passed a comprehensive test that included both practical bourbon knowledge and an exercise in making recommendations for building a bourbon flight.

Being able to confidently and accurately speak about Kentucky bourbon is integral to the job at Mint Julep Tours.

The Stave & Thief Society bourbon certification program is the official bourbon education course of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. The curriculum is endorsed by the KDA members and master distillers are the best in the field. Several master distillers and industry veterans worked with Moonshine University to develop the standardized training process.

What Do Stave & Thief Society Students Learn?

Core studies of the Stave & Thief Society certification process include classifying bourbons vs. whiskies, explaining the science behind bourbon making, identifying heritage brands, describing the bourbon sensory experience with taste and aroma evaluations, Kentucky’s rich history in distilling, and making suggestions for bourbon drinking. For further education, an executive bourbon steward certification is also available. It includes a full-day workshop at Moonshine University, where students get hands-on experience into the entire bourbon making process and complete extensive sensory exercises.

Can I Join the Stave & Thief Society?

Yes! Once open only to hospitality establishments, this bourbon education certification program is now available to individuals. Courses are held several times a year in Louisville, Kentucky join the Stave & Thief Society. See their website for details: https://staveandthief.com/course-catalog. Executive programs are currently in the works to study Irish whiskey and scotch.

About the Author – Rachel Goldenberg

Rachel Goldenberg - Mint Julep ExperiencesRachel Goldenberg has been Director of Marketing at Mint Julep since 2017. Her extensive bourbon education includes becoming an Executive Bourbon Steward through the Stave & Thief Society and graduating from Woodford Reserve’s Bourbon Academy. She is a Certified Tourism Ambassador and enthusiastic advocate for her adopted hometown of Louisville. When she’s not promoting Mint Julep’s portfolio of southern experiences, she can be found walking her dog or enjoying a drink on a Germantown patio.

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