Ian en Paul hebben een interview gehad met Forbes om hun Bourbonmerk ‘Brother’s Bond’ te promomten, deze verschint officieel op 1 mei.
According to Bacardi Limited’s annual trends report, 70 percent of North American consumers sought out sustainable or eco-friendly spirits brands at the end of 2020. While the upward trend of sustainable demand offers a positive shift in the market for now, all too often trends are just that—a fleeting moment. For Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, actors, directors, and activists, however, they intend to surpass sustainability with the debut of their bourbon, Brother’s Bond, by supporting regenerative agriculture.
“Building communities around farming and regenerative agriculture is the way to the future,” Somerhalder told Forbes. He explained that in the next decade there’s an opportunity for a great change in agricultural practices as the existing generation passes control to a younger (and by proxy, more progressive-thinking) generation. “We see that as a very powerful and positive thing,” he said. “The companies that are going to create the largest amount of stewardship are the companies with the triple bottom line: people, plant, profit.”
According to a 2020 journal published by MDPI, in comparison to the short-range concepts of sustainability, regenerative practices—including regenerative farming—reflect a holistic world view and aim for thriving living systems, where whole-system health and wellbeing increase continually. The journal furthers Somerhalder’s narrative and adds, “although the advancement of regenerative practices will require fundamental shifts supported by more awareness and education, theoretical and practical development, leadership, empowering communities, and integrating spirituality,” we should focus on regenerative sustainability because it addresses the “root causes of (un)sustainability.”
“Agriculture contributes more to climate change than all the cars on the road and all the planes in the sky, so that is where we make our stand,” Somerhalder emphasized.
The concept of Brother’s Bond originated during the early days of “The Vampire Diaries”—The CW hit series that aired from 2009 to 2017—where Wesley and Somerhalder first met and enacted the roles of the Salvatore brothers. Though Somerhalder (Damon Salvatore) and Wesley (Stefan Salvatore) shared many drams of bourbon on set, they revealed that the brown liquid consumed during the episodes was actually iced tea—so by the end of the day, they were ready for the real deal. Wesley shared, “Not to sound cheesy, but we would bond over bourbon after shooting.”
After 11 years, eight seasons and 171 episodes, Wesley and Somerhalder nurtured a brotherhood offset as conversations over their daily drink spanned from climate change and philanthropy to creating their own bourbon. They said that when filming ended, it was time to combine these recurring topics into a brand that extended beyond the show.
“We’re aware that although [“The Vampire Diaries”] was popular, it’s still finite,” said Wesley. “We want Brother’s Bond to transcend past TV and past our bond to create a community.”
Both Somerhalder and Wesley envisioned a brand they could build from the ground up, which wasn’t possible at the time of filming as they clocked 80 hours a week onset. Instead of outsourcing the process, they waited until filming wrapped before committing to the brand.
“If I’m a consumer, I want to know that what I’m purchasing from two people, who are advertising it, is something that they really created,” said Wesley, highlighting that they were the driving force from bottle, to label, to mash. He described Somerhalder working “like a mad scientist” to find the perfect blend, which frequently included experimentation in Somerhalder’s kitchen until three in the morning.
It took hundreds of flavor profiles, but on February 11, 2020—a date they now refer to as Founder’s Day—Somerhalder and Wesley found the perfect blend: an 80-proof, four-grain bourbon consisting of 65 percent corn, 22 percent rye and a percentage of wheat and barley that Somerhalder and Wesley will maintain as a secret.
“We have the exact same palate and appreciation for specific flavor profiles of bourbon,” said Somerhalder, referencing their mutual desire for a high rye-content. The blend of wheat and barley rounds down the spice of the rye to permit a somewhat sweet finish, with tasting notes of baked banana bread, dried oranges and fresh cut oak. “We wanted it to be like a handshake or a warm hug,” said Somerhalder.
Though the timing inopportunely aligned with the pandemic, the duo didn’t halt. They propelled into marketing, building a community through the Brother’s Bond Instagram page, which has accumulated over one million followers (and counting)—the most followed page of any celebrity spirits brand at the time of writing. When Brother’s Bond Bourbon launched two limited edition pre-sales in December 2020, and again in February 2021, the bottles sold out within minutes, collectively attaining one million in sales in less than 24 hours.
“We weren’t anticipating this; it’s a huge accomplishment because we haven’t even launched yet,” said Wesley, who described how Somerhalder and himself were humbled by the numbers, which were significant for the brand’s growth, and also an indication of the sense of community they sought to create. “We’re glad people are receptive and we’re glad people want to join us on the ride.”
When asked what they wanted the bourbon to evoke, Somerhalder evinced the quality of “togetherness.” He continued, “We’re proud that this will be sitting on people’s tables, whether it’s at Thanksgiving or Christmas or birthdays or just after a really long week on a Friday night.”
This sense of community is important for Somerhalder and Wesley’s greater plan. In the short term, Brother’s Bond is a way to come together over a bourbon that gives back, but the duo’s long-term goal is to create their own distillery and regenerative farm, to allow quality control and an all-encompassing, regenerative brand moving forward.
“Our goal is to work with farmers and empower them to make changes for the world,” said Wesley. Somerhalder added that empowerment extends to consumers as “educated consumers will change the world.”
The change they both reference is based on their shared commitment to negating climate change, something they envisioned from genesis, tracing back to their bourbon nightcaps. Over the past decade, Somerhalder and Wesley have advocated and adjusted aspects of their life to reflect the change they wished to see in the world. “Both of us have done a tremendous amount of advocacy individually, and not just advocacy, but implementing change and growth,” said Somerhalder.
In this interview, Wesley shared that he converted to a plant-based diet after recognizing animals’ direct contribution to the climate crisis and Somerhalder cited “Kiss The Ground,” a documentary he executive produced in 2020 about regenerative agriculture’s direct impact on the climate.
“Regenerative agriculture is one of the single, fastest ways to get us out of the climate crisis and to build a bright and healthy future. We know that, the thing is getting the public to know that,” said Somerhalder. He added now that Wesley and himself are directly involved in an agricultural industry, it’s a culmination of their efforts so far, and one that allows them to impart a greater impact for future generations. “We have our finger on the pulse, now it’s time to build out the entire system around it.”