Our Team

Bourbon+ is created by individuals immersed in the bourbon world and experts of their respective fields; all dedicated to delivering captivating, intriguing, and authentic content.

John Thames

Founder & Publisher

From Covey Rise magazine’s award-winning launch in 2012 to its emergence onto the national and global stages, John Thames, publisher and founder of Bourbon+ has steadied the helm of brand expansion while guiding a growing editorial staff and appetite for timeless words and images that capture whiskey culture and lifestyle.

Miles DeMott

Managing Editor

Miles DeMott is drawn to compelling stories and captivating spirits, and the confluence of the two in Bourbon+ is a bonus. He has worked in the writing and editing space for more than three decades, but that experience doesn’t seem to quell his curiosity about people and the narratives they curate.

Lauren Helmer


Driven by curiosity and the thrill of adventure, Lauren Helmer finds her spirit buzzing when she’s in the midst of unearthing fascinating stories, speaking with the marvelous minds behind the scenes, and learning what drives and inspires them to cultivate their own unique genre of brilliance. Luckily, the bourbon world has these characters in spades, keeping Lauren a thriving and happy editor indeed.

Shannon Persell

Art Director

A Memphis native living on the edge of the Tennessee whiskey trail, Shannon Persell has worked in the outdoor media industry for more than twenty years and has built a career by blending her love for the outdoors with her passion for visual storytelling. With expertise in magazine and print production, she is excited to venture into a completely new territory—the world of bourbon. Rolling up her sleeves, she is immersing herself in bourbon across the entire spectrum: sights, smells, tastes, and all the conversations that surround it.

Mary Katherine Garcia

Creative Director

Mary Katherine Garcia has brought her visual and creative strengths to both the startup and continued growth of Bourbon+. With almost 10 years of magazine production experience, she has settled into her current role of creative director, overseeing the brand’s visual identity, magazine operations, and digital front.

Russ Grimes


Whether he’s illustrating a whiskey bottle or collaborating with businesses to craft their brands, Russ Grimes has spent over 25 years refining his skills in design and illustration. He was instrumental in designing the Bourbon+ brand and continues to infuse his creativity into every issue. He deploys a unique combination of experience and skill to visually tell the stories of brands inside and outside of the bourbon community.

Sara Hand

Executive Assistant to the Publisher

A native of Tallassee, Alabama, Sara Hand’s training includes merchandising and hospitality, complementing more than 10 years of customer service and office management experience. Drawing on her desire to make an impact and her passion for physical fitness, Sara also works as a personal trainer.