Founder and Chief Bootlegger
James, or "JT" as he is fondly known by his friends, graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst - the British equivalent of West Point - and was commissioned as an officer into the elite Parachute Regiment. During his time, he was deployed to wherever his regiment needed and ended up in Iraq attached to 2 MEF. He held the rank of Major after receiving the honour of being appointed Officer Commanding Pegasus Company - part of the elite ranks of British airborne forces. He was also a jungle warfare instructor in Belize and did special forces selection.
James first arrived in Iraq in 2003 with his elite unit. When James returned to London, he was to be promoted to a desk job. But at 30, he "wasn't yet ready for a slow death", and so, two months later, after quitting the service, he was offered a role as a security contractor in Baghdad. While in Iraq, James became Director of Security at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Shortly after, in 2004, after a chance encounter at Baghdad Airport, James found himself fulfilling the roles of extreme restaurateur, accidental entrepreneur and bootlegger simultaneously. Thanks to his training and daredevil personality, James quickly became one of the best smugglers of the day.
A true adventurer in name and spirit, James also had other high-risk missions, e.g. smuggling himself undercover with a grenade strapped to his leg, into Fallujah in 2004, at the height of a frenzy of kidnappings and beheadings, to negotiate for the life of a western hostage with a Shaik from Ramadi; spending time living in the jungles of Sierra Leone running gold dust from Karbala to Dubai; and conveying gas with a team of friends from Pakistan, past Taliban forces, to supply NATO forces in Afghanistan. Speak to James about these experiences though, and you will be met with down-to-earth humility and levity.
After meeting with a friend who had lost his SEAL brother-in-law to suicide, James was prompted to reignite the Baghdad Country Club to help fellow veterans that are struggling. He reached out to the Iraq & Afghan Veterans of America (IAVA) with which he is now affiliated and supports.
James currently lives in Arlington, VA. You can find him chilling with friends at a bar serving good whiskey or bourbon, cruising down the Potomac, speaking with Master Distillers or organizing the next fundraising event for IAVA. If you are lucky, you might even catch him sprinting across downtown Washington D.C., shirt off and a Baghdad Country Club cap on.
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