What you need to know:
- Earlier in 2020, The Vampire Diaries’ stars Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley launched their own brand of bourbon: Brother’s Bond Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
- Practices at Brother’s Bond would be in line with “regenerative agriculture”, a green farming approach that helps sequester CO2 in soil.
- Brother’s Bond’s first release is a high-rye bourbon comprised of 65% corn, 22% rye, wheat and barley. It is aged for four years in virgin American oak barrels and comes at 40% ABV. The retail price within the United States is around US$44.
- The bourbon is designed to be approachable with rich dried fruit and honey sweetness accompanied by spice. Full tasting notes below!
- The bourbon is currently only available in the US, but would be made available globally soon.
- Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Cop
As with many other industries, sustainability in whisk(e)y production has been a long time coming. Despite being an industry steeped in tradition and heritage (some connoisseurs sometimes prefer 100-year old processes over modern techniques), the good news is that an increasing number of old and new participants in the whisk(e)y industry are becoming more energised by a spirit of increased environmental consciousness. From producing sustainable bottlecorks, using renewable energy to power distilleries, having distilleries go net zero, and cleaning whisky-related pollution from lakes, there is no shortage of news about producers taking extra efforts to do right by mother Earth.
Apparently the undead have also decided to do their part to fight climate change.
I am specifically referring to the “Salvatore brothers” (Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley) from the long-running teen drama TV series, The Vampire Diaries.
On the show, Somerhalder and Wesley play vampiric brothers Damon and Stefan Salvatore, who constantly fought over their mutual love interest. The only time they got along was when they enjoyed a nice whiskey together.
Over the course of filming the series, which ran for 8 years, Somerhalder and Wesley bonded over fake bourbon on screen (iced tea was used) and real bourbon off-set. A close friendship and an appreciation for whiskey developed between the brothers.
After the series ended in 2017, the actors decided to channel their mutual appreciation for whiskey towards distilling their own bourbon and launching their brand in late 2020: Brother’s Bond straight bourbon whiskey.
As ardent activists for improving sustainability, Somerhalder and Wesley stated that one of their company’s goals is to help fight climate change. The company donates a portion of its profits to support “regenerative agriculture”.
What’s that all about? While most plans to mitigate climate change focus on simply reducing emissions of harmful gasses, regenerative agriculture actually helps reverse the damage by using plants to capture more carbon dioxide from the air, among other benefits. This in essence achieves "net-negative" carbon emissions overall.
On top of making donations to the cause, Somerhalder and Wesley have recently announced that they would be using grains farmed using regenerative agriculture processes to make their bourbon. In an Instagram post on 13 October, Somerhalder wrote:
“I can proudly say that Brothers Bond Bourbon aka @brothersbondbourbon has officially purchased regenerative grain that will be going into barrels. The incredible farm practicing age – old regenerative agriculture will blow you away. … The story, the history and the importance of this farm to regenerate soil, revitalize freshwater stores and sequester carbon to save our planet will give you goosebumps or make your eyes teary. ”
The most important matter, of course, is how the bourbon tastes.
Brother’s Bond released its first bottling in early 2021. It is a four-grain, high-rye bourbon comprised of 65% corn, 22% rye and a percentage of wheat and barley that the actors prefer to keep a secret. It is aged for at least four years in virgin American oak barrels with the barrel staves at #4 char and barrel heads at #2 char.
Somerhalder has indicated that the bourbon is designed to be approachable and easy to drink, and hence the modest 40% ABV. The retail price within the United States is US$44.
The bourbon is not yet available internationally. Yet within the United States, the brand is an early marketing success.
Sales exceeded the company’s own expectations and broke the Internet. The brand demolished records in a series of pre-launches and sold out extremely quickly. Within the first four months of sales, over 50,000 cases were sold domestically.
Brother’s Bond is also the most followed whisk(e)y brand on Instagram with over 1.6 million followers:-
In contrast, an arguably more established bourbon brand such as Jim Beam has less than a fifth of the following:-
It just doesn’t seem fair. But hey, Jesus only had 12 followers.
The Salvatore brothers are not the first celebrities to wade into selling alcohol on the back of their star power in recent years. Conor McGregor founded an Irish whiskey brand Proper Twelve (and has already sold it for a very tidy profit), and David Beckam bought a stake in Haig Club whisky which he endorsed. Ryan Reynolds has been running very frequent ads for his Aviation Gin.
So the discerning whiskey drinker cannot be faulted for being a little cynical towards celebrity spirits as a thinly-concealed attempt to profit from star-struck fans.
That said, many reviews have claimed that the brothers have actually created a decent bourbon that is indeed very well-balanced, easy to drink and ideal for sipping.
Somerhalder's brooding good looks and fanbase of eager women are definite contributors to the brand’s record-breaking sales. But considering the early reviews, the relatively reasonable price point and the actors’ rather sincere commitment to “regenerative agriculture”, I am inclined to give their bourbon a shot when it becomes available internationally.
Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Cop