We recently met up with James Thornett (or is it Bond?) in the swanky Washington D.C. watering hole, the Columbia Room. It was an apt setting to hear about his adventures in the Middle East and how he accidentally became a bootlegger shifting high quality booze down the most dangerous road in the world.
While that’s cool, what’s even more intriguing are the whiskeys that he and his team have created that were inspired by those adventures.
“Buckshee Bourbon and Rye was founded out of adventure. I smuggled $10 million of alcohol down what was unquestionably the most dangerous road at the time — Route Irish in Iraq,” James told us while sipping on an Old Fashioned concocted using Buckshee Rye cocktail.
“The 10-mile stretch from Baghdad Airport to the Green Zone saw constant suicide attacks, IEDs and sniper attacks. I didn’t intended to become a smuggler but there was nowhere for us to get a decent drink. That’s why we started Baghdad Country Club to have somewhere civilized and relaxing to have a drink in. It was a place for ambassadors and assassins to have cocktails side-by-side. Buckshee Bourbon and Rye is inspired by that adventure.”
“James and I spent the past 25 years in and out of North Africa and the Middle East and one of the things we wanted to do was make these whiskeys as representative of where they were born and the concept, friendship and camaraderie as possible,” Buckshee COO Josh Volz told us.
The two teamed up with some key players in the spirits industry like JP Fetherston (US mixologist of the year), Xavier Padovani (partner in Experimental Cocktail Group) and Steven Grasse (Creator of Hendricks Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum) to create a whiskey that evokes many of the adventure-filled locales that have filled the pages of their respective passports.
The name Buckshee is derived from the Arabic word "bak-sheesh" meaning a small tip or bribe. James, a former British paratrooper, told us how colonial soldiers adapted it after World War I to mean a free drink. It was a term commonly used in his unit while serving during the Iraq War. It also reflects the attitude of the bourbon and rye they have created.
Spirit of adventure
The taste of adventure awaits — we’ve yet to come across a cooler whiskey story. We didn’t get to experience the Baghdad Country Club but sipping Buckshee Bourbon & Rye takes us right there.
A smooth sipper with a mash bill of 60% corn, 36% rye and 4% malt.
Bright, crisp and fragrantly aromatic, Buckshee Rye’s mash bill is 95% rye and 5% malt. Both bottles are 90 proof.
Try it for yourself by joining RackHouse Whiskey Club. Buckshee will be featured in our August 2019 box.