I first met Sean Higgins in 2008. He and his wife Lisa had just started a new company called Mint Julep Tours and he wanted to meet me for a drink at Jockey Silks at the Galt House. Their new sales office was located there and I agreed to meet him there for a drink after work. Sean had never tried Ancient Ancient Age 10 years old before so each had one neat. I remember this because of the Bourbon salesman from a company I will not name came over and told us that now that we drank the bottom shelf Bourbon we should try his product. I politely told him I rather like AAA and actually preferred it to what he recommended. Sean liked the way I handled this jerk and we enjoyed the drink of AAA. Sean told me about his new business venture and asked me for some historical background on some of the distilleries. I was happy to oblige and I have helped them out on several occasions since then. Mint Julep Tours wants to have trained tour guides that know the facts about Bourbon and its heritage.
Sean and his wife Lisa founded Mint Julep Tours to take advantage of the recently formed Bourbon Trail and what they saw as a growing Bourbon Tourism market. Sean is a 9/11 survivor. He had left his office in the Twin Towers for a meeting at hotel across the street when the disaster struck. He survived but lost many friends and co-workers in this cowardly act of terrorism. Lisa had been in the marketing and advertising business at the time. They spent a few years in California before coming to Kentucky to start Mint Julep Tours in 2008. When they started their business the Bourbon Trail had been around for several years but was still relatively unknown to the nation by today’s standards. It was a gamble that Mint Julep Tours could sell enough bus tours to be profitable. They hedged their business plan by also offering tours of horse farms and city tours to their portfolio of tours.
The business exceeded their expectations and has grown at an average rate of about 40% per year. It is also becoming a family business with their daughter Riley and son Brendan joining the firm in the last year or so. They offer a wide range of tours and can provide additional experiences by arranging dinner at a fine restaurant with a Bourbon personality should that be something the customers want to do. Their busses are small buses holding about 20 people at the most so they will take tours from two to twenty people easily. Larger tours can be arranged and Mint Julep will rent a larger bus if needed for a special tour. Their sales office is still at the Galt House and they do have a website where people can find out more about the tours. Because many tours are customer designed, even though you can sign up for a tour on the internet, there usually is a telephone call from someone at Mint Julep Tours involved before the final arrangements are made.
Sean and Lisa entered the business as the idea of Bourbon Tourism was just taking a firm hold on the State. Their efforts at promoting themselves and the Bourbon tours has helped make people from all over the world aware of Kentucky and Bourbon whiskey. Sean and Lisa are two of the Bourbon industry’s best ambassadors. They are brand neutral as they want to promote tours to all of the distilleries. They offer a top notch experience with clean and well maintained busses and well trained tour guides that know Bourbon and its history in Kentucky. They customize the tours to the needs and wants of their customers. The Bourbon experience is unique for every group and they have many repeat customers. Sean and Lisa Higgins are two of Bourbon’s Unsung Heroes.
Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl