Raj Peter Bhakta is the Founder and CEO of WhistlePig, the premier 100% rye, 10-year-aged whiskey. The son of immigrants, Raj was born to an Indian father and an Irish mother who instilled in him a determination to succeed and a love of country.
Before graduating from Boston College with a dual degree in history and economics, Raj became an expert on the military history of the Austrian Empire. During a post-college Himalayan trek in which he sought the spiritual insights of Hindu gurus, an undeclared war broke out between India and Pakistan. Raj offered his services to an Indian artillery regiment, hoping to gain some experience before shipping off to the United States Marines.
When, in 1999, a serious ski injury derailed his plans, Raj returned to his entrepreneurial roots, and in 2005, he was cast on one of NBC’s highest rated shows, The Apprentice. He made it to week nine before he was ousted by Mr. Trump.
Next, he pursued his passion for politics, winning the Republican Party’s endorsement for the United States House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district in 2006. Frustrated by the porous U.S.–Mexico border control, Raj illustrated the haplessness of current policy by crossing the border along the Rio Grande atop an elephant with a six-piece mariachi band near a U.S. Border Security checkpoint. During the campaign, Raj raised more money independently than any GOP candidate in the nation and led the Republican ticket for his district. Though unable to unseat his incumbent opponent, he received more than 74,000 votes of 180,000 cast.
In 2007, Raj found his true calling. He followed in the footsteps of George Washington (a legendary rye whiskey producer) and began his journey to create the world’s finest whiskey, purchasing a 500 acre dilapidated dairy farm in Vermont. By 2010, that dilapidated farm had been transformed into the 1,300 acre WhistlePig headquarters.
Through WhistlePig, Raj met his wife Danhee. They live on the farm with their two young daughters and pet Kunekune pigs.
A printable bio can be viewed here.
Dave, a luminary in the world of whiskey, is one of the nation’s preeminent master distillers. Before joining WhistlePig, he spent 14 years as the Master Distiller for Maker’s Mark in Loretto, Kentucky. He joined the WhistlePig team with a simple (yet astoundingly complex) objective: create the finest rye whiskey.
Michael M. Hodge
Chief Officer of General Staff
A student of the Middle East and Arabic, Michael followed his studies to their most logical conclusion- working for a Vermont whiskey brand. He quickly put his dashingly good looks, knowledge of everything, and prodigious beard growing abilities towards the growth and development of the WhistlePig brand. After tours in DC and New York selling ‘the Pig’, Michael recently moved back to the WhistlePig farm as resident gunsmith and woodsman. In his spare time, he coordinates WhistlePig’s national sales and distribution and on Saturdays, he sells WhistlePig at the Burlington farmers market.
Secretary of State/Senior Steward of the Brand
In WhistlePig’s earliest days, Daniel made the tough decision to abandon an ill-advised, albeit lofty, dream of professional bare-knuckle boxer for a noble pursuit: to be the best farmhand WhistlePig had ever seen. However, Daniel’s endless enthusiasm for the brand– coupled with his undeniable agricultural ineptitude– drew Daniel away from Shoreham’s amber fields of rye towards a different purpose altogether. Armed with his dizzying intellect and boyish charm, Daniel fulfills his role as Secretary of State by managing WP’s national sales efforts and spreading the WhistlePig gospel across lands near and far. In his free time, he enjoys wordplay, the Charleston, knitting, and the quotidian application of Seneca’s De Brevitate Vitae.
Steward of the Brand NY
Matt Eisenman is a whiskey enthusiast who serendipitously hails from the town of Rye, NY. Having grown up in a family that was passionate about food, wine, and spirits, he always had an affinity with the restaurant and cocktail scene. After graduating the University of Wisconsin-Madison (go Badgers!) Matt moved to LA to pursue a career as a literary manager. While he thrived in the entertainment industry, his heart was always back in Gotham, closer to Matt’s family and the heart of the East Coast spirits industry. By chance and fortune he found his way into the WhistlePig family and was able to combine his passions with a career. He couldn’t be happier talking about whiskey all day long, and being surrounded by like-minded individuals.
Steward of the Brand New England
After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Gregory began his career with the Kraft Group. Working in the front office for the New England Patriots fostered his desire to be exposed to every aspect of developing a business… along with a passion for whiskey. Gregory learned the inner workings of the spirits industry at a distillery in Connecticut. Yes, “learned the inner workings” is a euphemism for “drank a lot,” but he learned a lot, too. At the start of 2014, he joined the WhistlePig family as the Massachusetts Steward of the Brand. Gregory resides in Boston, MA where he enjoys cruising on his motorcycle, traveling New England, and sipping a tasty dram of the world’s finest rye.
Steward of the Brand TX
After receiving his BA in Marketing from Texas Tech University, Doug made his bones in the corporate world, recruiting healthcare. After a couple of years of hard times, he decided to pursue his first love: fine wine. Over the next ten years, Doug opened several wine bars and restaurants, then launched a small distributor in Austin. Seeking an opportunity to manage brands, he went to work for wine importers covering multiple regions. While working in Texas for a wine and spirits importer, Doug met Raj and discovered the magic of the ‘Pig. The rest, as they say, is Whistling in the Rye.
Steward of the Brand VT
After learning about WhistlePig Larry hitchhiked from his home state of Michigan to Shoreham, VT. Within days, he was pushing a broom in the farm’s drafty warehouses for room, board, and rye. The company’s leadership soon recognized that Larry’s technique was more befitting of a salesman, and the following year he was promoted to Vermont’s Steward of the Brand. Larry enjoys reading, hiking and beekeeping — all of them, naturally, with whiskey in hand.
Steward of the Brand DC
Graduating from the American University with a BA in International Relations and a MS in Intelligence Studies from Mercyhurst University, Max spent the last 9 years in our nation’s capital, delving into the worlds of national security… and rye whiskey. In addition to promoting our brand to the young professional masses within the District of Colombia, Max enjoys running adventure races, traveling, and working part-time in the entertainment division of MLB’s Washington Nationals. Go Nats!
Steward of the Brand Boston
Ben spent his formative years in White Bread, Massachusetts before following Destiny to the Champlain Valley region of Vermont. Sadly, Destiny disappeared shortly thereafter with the backup banjo player for a traveling folk band. Humbled, Ben found solace in the beautiful landscape around him and developed a tender affection for another woman — Mother Nature — along with a penchant for rye whiskey. He now fortuitously channels these passions into supporting WhistlePig in its quest to be the premier farm-to-bottle aged rye since Prohibition. In his free time, he enjoys songwriting, sushi, good ol’ family time… and learning to play the banjo.