Historic Bootlegging Paradise Whiskey Island Up For Sale

For a mere $3 million you can own a kickass piece of boozy history.
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For a mere $3 million you can own a kickass piece of boozy history.
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Whiskey Island is a 3.1-acre slice of paradise a stone's throw from the U.S.-Canada border. Located on the American side in the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River, Whiskey Island is home to a 140-year-old, 8-bedroom lodge, and as the Daily Beast reports, the whole deal is up for sale, if you have $3 million to spare.

The Daily Beast's Justin Jones writes that during Prohibition the lodge "was the ideal location for smugglers to drop and load booze that would end up supplying thousands of speakeasies across New York and the thirsty country."

While other bootleggers were sneaking hooch across borders to thirsty American customers in the northwest and the south, Jones writes upstate New York gangsters made Whiskey Island "a prime point to hide their cargo and make a quick escape without losing their investment." The area was ideal since the Thousand Islands' proximity to one another made them perfect spots to station lookouts. "These gave rumrunners a heads-up against law enforcement," writes Jones, and "a way to hide their stash, and many different spots from which to track their shipments."

Whiskey Island's cred as bootlegger central is backed up by Prohibition-era New York papers. Just one example comes from the Olean, New York Times Herald, which in August of 1921 reported the arrest of a crew of Canadian smugglers "in a thrilling raid on a large steam yacht." The Canadians were carrying a motherlode of wines and liquors and were "seized at Whiskey Island, west of the Cuyahoga River."

Current Whiskey Island owner Phil Randazzo told the Daily Beast it is still a go-to destination for lovers of Prohibition history, who Randazzo says "come out all the time to dive the waters" in hopes of finding mythical lost caches of booze and other artifacts.

Whatever the next owner of Whiskey Island does with the property — rent it out as a retreat, use it as a summer home —it sounds like one of the more perfect spots on the 44th parallel to sit on the back porch with a righteous rye whiskey cocktail in an iPad flask and toast the ghost of Al Capone.