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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

The Gulf of Time Separating You From Napoleon III is Bridged By One Brandy Bottle

00:00 46:58
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Some of the most remarkable historical artifacts found in the possession of collectors are vintage wines or spirits. A rare bottle’s journey spans continents and centuries, older than any human alive.
Today’s guest is Raj Bhakta, he’s the founder of Whistle Pig, maker one of the world’s most popular rye blends of whisky. He’s also an entrepreneur with a gift for promotion, including being a contestant on Season 2 of the Apprentice and riding an elephant across the Rio Grande in 2006, accompanied by a 12-piece mariachi band when he was running for a U.S. Congressional Seat in Pennsylvania.
During a trip to France a few years ago, by an incredible stroke of fortune, he was able to purchase 38 barrels of Armagnac vintage brandy, with some barrels dating back to 1868, right on the eve of the Franco-Prussian Wars.
He released Bhakta 50, an aged blend of 8 rare Armagnac vintages dated between 1868-1970, finished in Islay whisky casks. The youngest Armagnac is 50 years old, and the oldest in the bottle is 152 years old.
Prolonged aging imparts flavor, but also carries great risk, especially in tumultuous times. Nearly every village has been sacked time and time again, and , after its fortifications are reduced, a captured towns’ alcohol is the first thing to be consumed. Indeed, the oldest inhabitants of the Armagnac region still recall the sight of German scout planes circling the countryside, searching for the telltale black discoloration a by-product of alcohol storage that appeared on the sides and roofs of the cellars of the villagers who had hidden their brandy stocks.
In this episode we discuss how valuable items can last the test of time, the local character of brandy vs. whisky, and why craftsmanship is still needed in the twenty-first century.
May 20, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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