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Former ‘Vampire Diaries’ stars are partners in bourbon

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 9/21/2021 Meredith Goldstein
Paul Wesley sitting on a bench posing for the camera: Ian Somerhalder (left) and Paul Wesley starred as vampires. Now they make bourbon. © Dean Bradshaw Ian Somerhalder (left) and Paul Wesley starred as vampires. Now they make bourbon.

The timing was right in ways Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley couldn’t have predicted.

The longtime friends and former costars of “The Vampire Diaries” had been working for years to launch a bourbon brand called Brother’s Bond. (The actors played sexy, brooding immortal brothers on the CW show from 2009 to 2017).

Pre-sales launched last fall and again in January. That happened to be when fans of the show were doing pandemic re-watches, and new devotees were binging all eight seasons on Netflix.

The early bottles of the bourbon sold out fast, the actors fueling interest on social media, posing with drinks, offering early access to fans who stayed close to the news. (One of those fans was my friend Benielle, who made sure we had a bottle for drinking, and two as collector’s items.)

Listen, we needed something to look forward to, and bourbon made by the fictional Salvatore brothers — who drank bourbon (and blood) on the show — was something indeed. Even if we didn’t like it, it would be a memento.

Based on interest (and sales), Brother’s Bond has expanded its production and is being sold in more states — including Massachusetts, as of September. (You can find it as stores such as the new Gordon’s location in Arsenal Yards and Dion’s in Waltham).

To celebrate, Somerhalder and Wesley took a Zoom interview to talk about the brand and the fans supporting it.

Q. The thing that interests me about your bourbon and the marketing of it is that at no point did I feel like you misunderstood who’d be buying this. You catered to a fan base that loves the show — and they don’t want to be patronized. I wonder how intentional that was, [the fan gratitude, and the lack of bourbon snobbery].

Paul Wesley: I think if you’re just honest and authentic — not manipulative — things naturally fall into place. We created this bourbon for two types of people. The first being someone who’s never had bourbon before; we want them to be able to pour this into a glass. My mom doesn’t drink bourbon, but I want my mom to be able to pour this into a glass.

Ian Somerhalder: She drinks bourbon with me.

PW: Now she does.

Ian and I are bourbon drinkers. That’s our spirit of choice; I don’t drink tequila or vodka or any of that, I drink bourbon, so it has to be complex and nuanced and interesting enough for me to want to sell this product. So when we blended this, we also wanted to have a complexity, and as a result of that we feel that we can [also] talk to serious bourbon drinkers and master blenders about this. [Brother’s Bond says the “nose”/aroma of the drink is: baked banana bread, ripe tree fruit, walnuts, orange honey, warm rye spice.]

Q. Even with great interest in the early rounds of sales, how do you know how to pace the expansion of the business?

IS: It’s complicated, and thankfully, we have the most incredible team. I’m talking 20-plus year industry vets who know this business. But at the end of the day, you still don’t know how you’re going to do. How do you make these wildly complicated projections and how do you protect yourself?

Q. I don’t want to use the word luck in this context, but during [this past year, for many, it was about clinging to] what made you feel good. I did a rewatch of “The Vampire Dairies.” Many of my friends watched for the first time. There was something to the timing and success of launching this when you did.

PW: Not to sound egocentric about it, but like I definitely noticed lately that people are coming up to me more than ever. Even with a mask on, everyone’s like, “Oh, aren’t you on ‘The Vampire Diaries’?” I definitely took notice of the fact that people are rewatching it or watching it for the first time as a result of the pandemic and quarantine, and that is pure happenstance. We were doing this anyway. If we can bring some joy into people’s lives by giving them some bourbon while they’re going through whatever the heck it is they’re going through, that’s great.

IS: You’ve got to realize from a numbers perspective, this show is more popular now than it was when we were actually on the air — because if you look at the streaming numbers, just Netflix alone, [people watched] 14.1 billion minutes of ‘The Vampire Dairies’ … in 2020. It’s just fresh in people’s mind again.

Q. For new drinkers of the bourbon, what would be the one food you would pair with it?

PW: I spent a lot of time on airplanes, and I used to have a fear of flying, and I get up in the air and the first thing I do is order a bourbon on the rocks. They always served me almonds — like roasted and salted almonds, and I would then get my bourbon on the rocks. So for me, that’s my own personal nostalgia.

IS: I mean honestly, I would eat it with my eggs if that were socially acceptable.

Interview was edited and condensed. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at Meredith.Goldstein@Globe.com.

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