Anyone who's watched The Vampire Diaries has probably noticed something: the two leading men drink a lot of bourbon on screen.
Turns out, Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder drank a lot of it off screen too — so much so, in fact, that the pair decided to create their very own bourbon, beginning work while filming and focusing even more once the television show ended in 2017.
After 10 years of perfecting the blend, Brothers Bond is now available nationwide. The company itself is headquartered in Dallas, so the celebrities have been on a Texas tour to introduce their "juice" to bartenders, general managers, liquor stores, their fans, and the general public.
"We want to visit everywhere that we're selling Brothers Bond," says Wesley over Zoom from Austin, where the night before the pair had barhopped to see their liquor in action. "We're starting in Texas because Texas is such a power state. If we can win over Texas, we can win anywhere."
"This is a big whiskey state but it's a tough one," agrees Somerhalder. "You've got to be authentic, you've got to put the love into it, and you've got to spend time here. This community needs to know you're respectful of the whole whiskey world. It's a huge thing for us to be welcomed into this world here, and for us to be running our company out of Texas."
Three distinctive mash bills are blended to create the four-grain straight bourbon whiskey. The corn adds sweetness and fruit notes, the rye adds spice and floral notes, the wheat adds bready softness to the texture, and the barley rounds out the flavors with its nutty and caramel notes.
"When you first get a nose on it, you smell baked banana bread," says Somerhalder. "It's just so yummy. If it was socially acceptable, I'd eat it with my eggs."
The two actors had a hand in every single part of the bourbon's creation, from the bottle and label design to the liquor itself. Somerhalder estimates there were "hundreds" of iterations before they perfected the recipe, working with master distillers and blenders whom he and Wesley compare to music producers for their precision, patience, and artistry in engineering the final product.
"What we were really chasing is what's called an equal sensory proportion, meaning all the grains are expressed over your palate in total balance and harmony," Somerhalder explains. "You get that little warm kick of sugar on the back end — it's so delightful and nuanced — and that's what we worked so hard to achieve."
It was also important to the friends that their company give back, so a portion of all proceeds goes toward helping regenerative farming practices. Somerhalder is well-known for his charity work, especially focusing on environmental issues through his Ian Somerhalder Foundation, so adding this component to their company seemed like an obvious step.
"When you talk to people about climate change, you'll see them visually shut down because it's such a large concept to grapple with," he says. "How do you fix something that global? There's an answer, thankfully, and that answer is called regenerative agriculture.
"It's the use of plant-raising methods and agriculture at scale to sequester enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it safely back in the ground. That carbon feeds all those crucial microorganisms in the soil. Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy communities."
Somerhalder estimates that within the next two years, they will be able to quantify how much carbon dioxide every single bottle of Brothers Bond sequesters.
But in the meantime, the "brothers" are enjoying finally seeing their bourbon on the shelves and in glasses.
"It really is the most authentic thing we could have done," Somerhalder says. "I don't know anything else I could imagine doing in my life right now. This is the American dream. We are literally living the American dream."
Brothers Bond is available for sale now at Twin Liquors, Sigel’s, Western Beverage/Costco, Goody Goody, Spec's, and Total Wine & More, plus many more independent and online liquor retailers.