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After exiting WhistlePig Whiskey, Raj embarked upon a global sabbatical in pursuit of the next big thing in the world of spirits—seeking a discovery upon which to launch an innovative new venture. Accompanied by his BHAKTA Spirits Cofounder Leo Gibson, his Aide-de-Camp, and his wife and young family, Raj led an odyssey across Japan, Colombia, India, Scotland, Switzerland, the Caribbean, and—fortuitously—the sleepy, storybook countryside of southern France.
In the beating heart of the Armagnac region—a Medieval town by the name of Condom, France—he unearthed an astoundingly ancient cellar of single vintage Armagnac brandy encompassing nearly every year back to 1868.
Traditionally crafted as Armagnac has been for 700 years—by means of mobile, wood-fired alembic column stills—these spirits were the absolute pinnacle of the craft. Each vintage was entirely unique. . . not to mention the extraordinary complexity these spirits had gained over decades, and even centuries, of aging.
When he had picked his jaw off the floor, he set about the acquisition of this treasure; of course, he proved victorious. And thus, BHAKTA Spirits was born.
But not one to settle for just the world’s oldest spirits and their original, pre-French Revolution château, he made another dizzying play once stateside—buying an entire Vermont college campus at auction. There, on the BHAKTA-GRISWOLD Campus (née Green Mountain College), this fast-growing ultra-luxury brand has headquartered its operations on a sprawling campus that has become a prized invitation for collectors and spirits industry insiders.