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Issue 136 - Victory in Vermont

Whisky Magazine Issue 136
June 2016

 

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Victory in Vermont

How WhistlePig won through after five years

America would likely be one Hollywood comedian richer if only Raj Bhakta had followed his mother's advice. His schoolboy charm, a knack for impressions, and a quirky comedic flair could have set him on the road to stardom. Instead, Bhakta chose a different path. Rather than pursuing show business, he set his sights on making rye whisky. Now, establishing a distillery in Vermont is not without its difficulties, as Bhakta soon learned. In fact, they likely outweigh the familiar absurdities that are the stuff of Hollywood gossip and budget over-runs. But having set his course, nothing would deter him. Now, nearly six years after filling his first bottle of WhistlePig Rye with whisky distilled elsewhere, this Bhakta brand is a category leader. His thriving farm distillery is not a film set but a reality.


Riding in Eisenhower's Cadillac

The limousine careers down a single-track mountainside road somewhere in Vermont. Dusk has turned to dark, though it makes little difference in this fog. My arm is about to ooze blood as my wife's nails dig deeper. On my left, Meghan is oblivious to our predicament and merrily mixes yet another rye Manhattan at her pop-up backseat bar.

“What's that smell?” my wife mumbles, trying not to sound that concerned.

“It's the brakes,” says Leo, cheerfully, as Dave nods agreement from the front seat.

“Please,” I beg, “drive into a tree while we're still going slow enough so some of us might live.”

Leo and Dave chuckle pol...

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