The $65k Ultimate Fantasy Whiskey Experience – A Barrel of Jack, A Helicopter, The Presidential Suite and Lotsa Leather
It all started about 10 years ago on a ping pong table at the home of Sean and Lisa Higgins. This husband and wife team took an inkling of an idea to start a new business and went with it. The Higgins are the co-founders of Mint Julep Tours, recently renamed Mint Julep Experiences. I had an opportunity to sit down with Sean to talk about the evolution of the name change, the southern expansion from Kentucky to Tennessee and the introduction of their Neiman Marcus like $65,000 fantasy “Roll Out the Barrel, The Ultimate Whiskey Vacation” experience.
The Name Change from Mint Julep Tours to Mint Julep Experiences
In June of 2017 the Tennessee Distillers Guild working with state and local officials took a page out of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association playbook and the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and created the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. As the Higgins took a look at expanding their tourism business to the Tennessee market, it gave them a chance to reflect on what they had done over the last 10 years, what they have become and where they are headed. As Sean pointed out, they are much more than a “tour” company.
“As we moved to expand to another state and another area and focus on whiskey as a spirit in Tennessee, did we want to be Mint Julep Tours in both locations? That was part of it,” said Sean. “The other part of it is the dynamic of the changing of our industry and who we have become. So after 10 years, we continue to improve on the things that we’ve always done, which is provide safe transportation, with knowledgeable tour guides in an authentic manor around the state. Now we are doing so many curated (custom) tours and our packages have become multi-day, especially for the guests that have come back for a 2nd, the 3rd time and the 4th time. And so we thought it would be a good opportunity to rethink the tour word which in the industry means ‘get on a bus with a bunch of people and just go take a tour.’ Our experiences are very intimate and small. We have 10 to 22 people at the max. And what we thought about was, is that a tour or is that an experience? And what we’ve heard through Trip Advisor, guest feedback and the coordinators that work with our guests is that it’s all about the experience, it’s so much more than a tour.”
Not only did they use the new name for the Tennessee whiskey market, they actually changed the name of the company in Kentucky as well. The writing was actually on the wall a couple years ago when Sean said, “Today, bourbon tourism is not only a thing, it’s an experience.”
The Tennessee Whiskey Trail and Mint Julep Experiences
Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.
Today, the Tennessee Whiskey Trail is made up of approximately 30 distilleries across the state. These distilleries range from small, boutique-style operations to well-known distilleries that have been making legendary Tennessee Whiskey for generations. Mint Julep Experiences opened a new office in Nashville earlier this year. The new location includes three full-time vehicles and multiple tour guides that are offering several public tours that takes guests around the state. Experiences include trips to the big boys, Jack Daniels Distillery and George Dickel Distillery as well as the craft spirits makers like Corsair Distillery, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, H. Clark Distillery and many others.
Nashville is a city on the move. Since 1843, Nashville Music City has been the capital of Tennessee. It’s a city known the world over for its music and hospitality. The city is home to the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum and many of the best BBQ places found in the south. Since around 2011, the city has seen its population grow by about 100 new residents every day.
Introducing the Ultimate Fantasy Whiskey Vacation
In today’s bourbon crazed world where people will wait in line for hours in 20 degree weather just to get the chance to purchase a bottle of 23 year old bourbon whiskey, it only makes sense that Mint Julep would create a fantasy experience for the whiskey connoisseur that has everything. That said, the person that is going to purchase the Ultimate Fantasy Whiskey Vacation isn’t likely to spend too much of their own time standing in line.
As we shifted our conversation to the new “Roll Out the Barrel – The Ultimate Whiskey Vacation” package you could hear Sean’s voice speed up as he talked about the tour experience he always wanted to offer but it just never quite came together before.
“I’ve always wanted to do Bourbon Flights, in the literal sense. In Louisville, we don’t have access to helicopters and helicopter pilots to be able to activate that, in Nashville we do. We found a great partner, we found a great couple of pilots and we found some good helicopters. So we are truly getting ready to launch Whiskey Flights. Jack Daniel without question stepped up to the plate immediately and said, ‘Let’s make this happen.’ The OMNI (Hotel) did the same thing. And between those two strong partners and two strong brands, we realized by their reaction we were on to something. They had a clientele that was asking for this type of experience so we rounded it out with Col. Littleton’s Leather Shop with liquor and leather and with Lucchese (handmade custom leather bootmaker.)”
Roll Out the Barrel, The Ultimate Whiskey Vacation
What’s in the $65,000 package?
Private Barrel Select at Jack Daniel’s Distillery – This is an offering rarely if ever offered to private individuals. Guests will fly by private helicopter from Nashville to Lynchburg to do a private barrel select with a master distiller at the world famous Jack Daniel Distillery. Assuming he’s in town, the private tasting will be lead by Jack Daniel Master Distiller Jeff Arnett. They’ll sample from three barrels of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey inside the rickhouse. Once they choose their barrel, personalized bottles from the chosen barrel will later be shipped to guests home with customized bronze medallions, a crystal decanter, and barrel head with their name on it. And of course, they’ll send you the entire barrel, a barrel that will be talked about by the new owner for years to come.
Helicopter Flights, Luxury Transportation & Trip Coordination Throughout your getaway, Mint Julep Experiences will escort you in style including black car service around town and unique helicopter ﬂights from downtown Nashville to Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg and Col. Littleton’s in Lynnville and back to Nashville. A helicopter ride landing at the Jack Daniel Distillery is something very few people have ever experienced.
A 2 Night Stay Including All Meals at the OMNI Hotel – Guests will enjoy a two night stay at the OMNI Hotel’s Presidential Suite. Accommodations include stunning downtown views, a luxurious living room with wet bar and king bedroom. All meals are included throughout your stay as well as an unmatched surf and turf dining experience at Bob’s Steak & Chop House.
Fine Leather Goods Shopping Spree – Col. Littleton has been making some of the ﬁnest artisanal leather masterpieces in the South for more than 30 years. Guests will be able to outﬁt themselves with hand-crafted leather goods that will last a lifetime. This little shopping spree includes $5,000 worth of your choice of briefcases, bags, luggage, personal gear, or home decor. Incidentally, that’s the Colonel in the cover image.
Kick It Up A Notch with Designer Boots – You can’t leave the heart of the south without a pair of designer leather boots. At Lucchese Bootmaker, a personal designer will work with you to craft a custom pair of boots to your speciﬁcations with a value up to $5000. Your perfectly ﬁt and expertly made boots will be one of a kind with the leather, look and feel of your choice.
The expert team at Mint Julep of experienced coordinators will build your itinerary, handle all the logistics and craft a memorable two-day adventure for you and a guest. The package is designed for two but can accommodate up to four for a minimal additional cost. Mint Julep Experiences is now accepting reservations for this once in a lifetime experience.
If they need someone to document this entire experience, I’ll be the first one to raise my hand to volunteer.
View all Tennessee Distilleries.