For actors Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, the reason for launching their own bourbon brand is personal. The two have been good friends since playing brothers on “The Vampire Diaries.” Even though it’s been four years since the popular CW series wrapped, the co-stars remain close — so close, that they co-created an alcohol brand called Brother’s Bond Bourbon.
“We drank bourbon on the show,” Wesley told Yahoo Finance Live. “Ian and I drank bourbon offscreen when we finished work. We fell in love with bourbon. We shot the show in the South, and so, this is extremely organic to us. And it’s just — it’s something that just makes perfect sense.”
Somerhalder added, “This [bourbon] was over 10 years in the making. This guy and I spent so many hundreds — well, thousands and thousands of hours on the set together. And this is the most authentic thing that we can think of doing. Our soul is in this bottle.”
When the bourbon launched in May it sold out online within days. Since then, Somerhalder says they have sold 50,000 cases of the four-grain straight bourbon whiskey which retails for $39.99 and is sold online and in major chains including Albertsons (ACI), Trader Joe’s and Walmart (WMT).
Wesley said the two had “a lot of time on our hands” during the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to put their business plan into action.
“I mean, obviously, it was a horrible time, but at the same time, it forced us to sit in our homes, get on our Zooms, talk every single day, and develop this product. Ian and I live close to one another,” said Wesley. “So I went to Ian’s. We blended this bourbon together in his living room.”
There’s certainly no shortage of celebrity-owned alcohol brands: There’s Ryan Reynold’s Aviation American Gin and George Clooney’s Casamigo’s Tequila — both brands are now owned by drinks giant Diageo (DEO). There’s also Brian Cranston and Paul Aaron’s Dos Hombres Mezcal, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Teremana Tequila, Matthew McConaughey’s Longbranch Whiskey, Post Malone’s Maison No. 9, well… you get the idea.
“First of all, let me set the record straight,” said Somerhalder. “We do everything in our power not to call one another or refer to ourselves as celebrities.”
Wesley added, “Most people — and I’m not saying specific names or anything, but most people will slap their names on a bottle and sell a product that they really have no part in developing. Everything you see here, from the label to the name, to what’s inside, to the bottle, was designed by Ian and myself and our team. And so for us, this is extremely organic.”
The pair’s “passion project” is also about giving back with an eye toward sustainability. The brand donates a portion of proceeds to regenerative agriculture, and their goal is for the brand to be carbon negative.
“The future of business are the companies with triple bottom lines,” said Somerhalder. “People, planet, profit— end of story, right? We obviously know scientifically regenerative agriculture can stop climate change in its tracks, so we are doubling down and putting our money where our mouth is… We are an agricultural company. And we are going to make sure that we invest heavily, heavily, heavily in regenerative ag[riculture] by sequestering enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and storing it safely back in the ground where it belongs.”
Somerhalder explained how the label, which features two men sitting under a tree, is “super symbolic.”
“The brother’s bond is the anchor that holds this big, you know, organic structure in between the boys. They have the ability to be safe and look out and have perspective,” he said. “These are the grains actually built in, you know, the corn, wheat, barley, and rye, built into the tree. And the birds signify nature and freedom.”
“And the tree is an oak tree,” added Wesley, “and as we all know, bourbon is aged in oak barrels. So everything has a meaning and a significance.”
Alexis Christoforous is an anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.