Review: Brother’s Bond Wants to Be More Than a Celebrity Bourbon
Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley aim for the whiskey connoisseur with their second expression, a cask-strength, four-grain expression
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What we’re drinking: Brother’s Bond Original Cask Strength Bourbon
Where it’s from: Launched in 2021, Brother’s Bond Bourbon was created by Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, long-time friends who you might know from the long-running show The Vampire Diaries.
Why we’re drinking this: When it launched late last year, Brother’s Bond quickly became one of the fastest-growing bourbons in America, shipping over 80,000 cases across the USA in 29 states. It had the most successful pre-sale launch in the history of ReserveBar. It’s also already the most-followed alcohol brand on Instagram, according to the company. So there seems to be something there beyond the celebrity tie-in … and no offense to the two actors-turned-spirits-founders, but neither of them is the level of Dwayne Johnson or the stars of Breaking Bad (then again, thank you for not coming out with a celebrity agave spirit).
“I think we’re upending the way you launch an alcohol company,” says Somerhalder, who notes that bourbon’s always been a major part of his life (“I’m a poor kid from the bayous of Louisiana. Bourbon was part of the culture for us. I was muddling mint juleps for my family after church when I was four years old.”)
“We shot our show in Atlanta, the South, so we drank a lot of bourbon on and off-screen,” Wesley adds. “We drink together, hence the name; it’s a symbol of our friendship, and the ethos of the company, to bring people together.”
The flagship Brother’s Bond release is a solid four-grain (65% corn, 22% rye, undisclosed wheat and barley), 80-proof bourbon that seems to have taken off so successfully due to a combination of star power, modest pricing, clever marketing and, yes, a very balanced taste profile.
“We wanted to achieve two things; approachability right out of the bottle for newcomers, but also a complexity that a bourbon lover could appreciate,” says Somerhalder. “And that’s hard to come by in an 80-proof bourbon.”
While I don’t think the flagship release will appeal to hardcore bourbon fans in the long run — it’s solid and well-rounded if not overly complex (but good for summer-y drinks; see below) — the Cask Strength suggests that a little more kick could go a long way.
How it tastes: Brother’s Bond Bourbon Original Cask Strength is a limited release of 70 of the Brother’s Bond Bourbon barrels, which were distilled and sourced from MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. The Cask Strength release, uncut and unfiltered, has an ABV of 57.9% (our sample, which we tried in December, was 59% ABV — all of the BB releases share the same mashbill). The age statement we were told was four years.
Turns out the higher ABV did the trick: The “total balance” of the original gets a bit upended, but now you have more caramel, butterscotch and jam notes (including raspberry), with hickory and tobacco on the nose and some more rye spice making an appearance on the finish. This one is really nice for sipping, and given its modest price point, could also even work well in an elevated cocktail.
Fun fact: While a rye is “coming soon” according to the Brother’s Bond website, be on the lookout for a 100-proof release and various age statement bottles over the next few years.
Where to buy it: Available now on ReserveBar and eventually a few select retailers, Brother’s Bond Cask Strength Bourbon has a suggested retail price of $79.99.
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