A modern-day bootlegger launches a bourbon inspired by his perilous past.
James Thornett has quite the pedigree: A graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he later joined the elite Parachute Regiment as an officer, among other subsequent roles. In the mid 2000s, he underwent his most hazardous assignment, dodging sniper attacks to smuggle booze for his side project the Baghdad Country Club, deemed the world’s most dangerous bar. Influenced by his time in Iraq, Thornett collaborated with folks such as partner Josh Volz and Drink Co. Beverage Director JP Fetherston on Buckshee Bourbon ($40, bucksheebourbon.com). The name derives from the Arabic baksheesh, meaning a small bribe to grease the wheel. Distilled with a high-rye mash bill, it works equally well in an Old-Fashioned as it does with a single cube and good friends. As Thornett recalls, “running the club taught me how much good drinks bring people together.”