Jesse Razaqpur likes his whisky neat and his moustache curled // Secret Life

Jesse Razaqpur
Meet the defence lawyer who looks like a Prohibition-era bootlegger

By Braden Alexander

On Tuesday March 10th, 2015


Jesse Razaqpur Secret LifeJesse Razaqpur

Edward H. Royle & Associates

“What the hell is that?” asked a lawyer at Clifford Chance LLP when Jesse Razaqpur showed up in New York City for his first day. “You are not starting at this firm with that moustache.”

He shaved it for the job, and stuck it out for just over a year. But now that he’s back in Toronto, working at Edward H. Royle & Associates, he’s grown the ’stache back to its full glory.

Razaqpur’s moustache makes him look like two things: cartoon villain Snidely Whiplash and a Prohibition-era bootlegger. The funny thing is, neither of those are too far off the mark. 

To be clear, Razaqpur is no criminal. But he is a criminal lawyer and loves it. “I like the idea of keeping the authorities in check.”

He also makes his own whisky, but not in a bootleggy way. Razaqpur founded Toronto Distillery Co. in 2012 with his childhood pal and fellow lawyer, Charles Benoit. The two admired the craft beer movement and wondered why no one was doing it with whisky in Canada.

“The laws around it were so complicated and arcane,” says Razaqpur. “But we said, ‘Hell, we’re lawyers. We should be able to figure it out.’”

Getting the business off the ground was hard, and keeping it going might be even harder: he’s still in court every day from nine to five.

Still, he makes both work, by pulling 80-hour work weeks and reading case law as he distills. Oh, and he gets to keep his moustache. Who says you can’t have it all? 

This story is from our Spring 2015 issue.



Photography by Daniel Ehrenworth