What, outside their remarkable good looks, do Ryan Reynolds, George Clooney, and Matthew McConaughey have in common?
They all take great pride in owning their own own spirit company. The spirits business has been completely swept up by the appeal of sipping like a star.
There are many celebrity-endorsed alcohol products in Hollywood, from Kevin Hart's Gran Coramino tequila to Jay-Armand Z's De Brignac bubbly. But how did this trend start, and what makes it so alluring?
Let's travel back to the 1950s, when Jack Daniel's was a little-known Lynchburg whiskey firm that sold just around 150,000 cases of its product each year.
That is, until one day Frank Sinatra took the stage and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jack Daniel's, and it's the nectar of the gods," declaring his love for Jack Daniel's to the world.
For his devoted following, the chance to drink like one of the most celebrated jazz singers of the 20th century seemed too wonderful to pass up. Within a few years of this major endorsement, Jack Daniel's saw their sales more than double and became a household name.
The notion of truly possessing a spirit didn't become popular until the early 2000s, and Jay Z is credited with being the catalyst. He created his own label, suitably dubbed Ace of Spades, by purchasing a portion of the upscale Champagne company Armand de Brignac. Jay Z wanted to create a brand that would be associated with his jet-setting, high-roller lifestyle, so he worked with the Cattier family of Chigny Les Roses, one of the oldest and most prestigious champagne houses in the world. Everything about it, both the glittering metallic look and the liquid itself, screamed luxury and was a big success.
Soon after word got out, a ton of other famous people followed in his footsteps.
Here are a few key figures who are dominating in 2022.
Kendall Jenner - 818 Tequila
Kendall Jenner, who introduced 818 Tequila in early 2021 with "818" standing for her native area code of Los Angeles, is one of the most recent trend newbies.
The brand, which offers three different types of tequila (Blanco, Aejo, and Reposado), emphasizes openness and sustainability as parts of their brand story and culture.
In light of this, they've teamed up with Mexican NGO SACRED, a nonprofit that works to better the lives of people in remote villages where agave is grown.
Together, they started a program called 818 bricks, in which they create sustainable bricks from leftover agave pulp and use them to construct useful community structures. In terms of the flavor, all three variants have a strong vanilla profile, with the the Añejo and Reposado leaning sweeter and richer with age.
George Clooney - Casamigos Tequila
George Clooney, the husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford, Rane Gerber, and businessman Michael Meldman came up with the idea for Casamigos Tequila.
The idea was born while Clooney and Gerber were on vacation in Mexico.
They visited the town's bars and eateries and drank a lot of tequila, as is customary in Mexico. They discovered a smorgasbord of prices, flavors, and quality. Some tequila brands were excellent, some weren't so much, and the best ones cost a lot of money. At that point, they developed the concept for Casamigos, a premium tequila that didn't burn when you drank it, hit the perfect flavor notes, and didn't leave you with a hangover the next day.
After 700 tests over the course of two years, they had discovered the ideal tequila.
They added Meldman as their third team member to offer his astute commercial acumen to the brand's launch, and it quickly gained popularity. The Blanco's palate is light, silky, and fruit-forward, with hints of papaya and guava from the tropics. The Blanco's fruity profile can be found in the Reposado and Aejo, but they also have a distinct caramel flavor that intensifies and becomes richer with age. The Reposado and Aejo are aged in American white oak barrels for seven months and 14 months, respectively.
Ryan Reynolds - Aviation Gin
Despite the brand's existence since 2006, Canadian-American actor Ryan Reynolds bought a stake in Aviation Gin in 2018. He joined forces with Aviation Gin because, in his opinion, it was the best gin available. By using his sardonic humor and unconventional creative direction, he single-handedly established the brand.
The juniper flavor is not as strong on the palate as it would be in an American Dry gin. The flavor is more flowery with a peppery undertone. The flavor is dominated by cardamom, cinnamon, lavender, and orange peel, with a sweet and somewhat peppery finish.
Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul - Dos Hombres Mezcal
In 2019, shortly after finishing El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, the Breaking Bad team had an idea for Dos Hombres Mezcal. The two decided to look into a different way of working together because they had developed a special bond as friends and coworkers while they were on the set. They had the notion to start a mezcal business while they were relaxing at a bar in New York City and sipping their preferred alcoholic beverage.
Dos Hombres, which roughly translates to "two guys on a mission," is the name they came up with because they are two self-made individuals from working-class backgrounds. The mezcal itself has a smokiness reminiscent of firewood, which is complemented with a fruity, fresh palate with hints of mango and sweet wood.
Sean “Diddy” Combs - Cîroc Vodka and DeLeón Tequila
Sean Combs has extensive experience in marketing across a wide range of businesses. He made his foray into the spirits industry in 2009 after signing a hefty endorsement contract with Diageo-owned Cîroc Vodka. Diddy is the Chief Marketing Officer of the company, not its owner. As such, he has complete influence over everything, "from the bottle design to choosing the flavors to the final taste." As everyone is aware due to the success of Cîroc, the partnership with Diddy proved successful for the company.
DeLeón Tequila is also owned by Diageo, so in 2013 when Combs expressed interest in it, Diageo was eager to collaborate once more.
They would work together on an equal basis this time, with Diddy investing in the brand as an equity owner of his recently established business, Combs Wine & Spirits.
The objective for DeLeón is much more subdued than Cîroc, who is outspoken and forceful. Making it one of the first tequilas for sipping is the goal. The Blanco, Aejo, and Reposado are the three main kinds, and they all have a thick, viscous mouthfeel and a smooth, creamy finish. The Blanco boasts a nuanced palate of citrus and spice, but the Aejo has strong, bourbon-like oak aromas. The Reposado is sweeter and fuller.
Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley - Brother's Bond Whiskey
The vampire was once Hollywood's "monster of the moment," but it entered popular culture in a less-than-monsterly guise. In an instant, vampirism became the trendiest craze in show business, replacing the scary and creepy creature-like vampires of classic literature with seductive and attractive vampires. One of the few popular shows that managed to surpass them all was The Vampire Diaries. The Salvatore brothers, played by Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, were important to the story.
After over a decade of working together, the two co-stars formed an off-screen brotherhood around their shared love of fine bourbon. It lasted for eight arduous seasons. Somerhalder, a native of Louisiana, was raised in a region known for its love of whiskey, so he naturally had a deep understanding of it. They developed a tradition of drinking bourbon after work, and in 2020 they unveiled Brother's Bond Whiskey. With an 80 proof and at least four years of aging, the whiskey is smooth and acceptable for first-time whiskey drinkers. The flavor is crisp and light with hints of dried fruit, baking spices, and banana bread.
LeBron James - Lobos 1707 Tequila
Another celebrity-backed tequila brand is Lobos 1707, which is Spanish for "wolf" and is supported by NBA great and sports legend LeBron James. Diego Osorio, Chief Creative Officer, and CEO Dia Simms formed the company. They previously collaborated with Sean Combs on DeLeón Tequila and Cîroc Vodka. James first encountered Lobos in 2020 while on holiday in the Mediterranean and fell in love with it. He wanted to try the tequila again in his small village of Ohio when he returned home, wondering if his taste buds had been altered by the tranquility of the Mediterranean.
Even in Ohio, he gave it another try and continued to enjoy it. He claimed in an interview that if something tastes good in Akron, Ohio, it must be the correct thing. Using the solera technique, the tequila is completed in Spanish Pedro Ximénez barrels to give it a sweet and oaky flavor. The company's Extra Aejo bottle, which they refer to as the "alpha tequila," is well-known. Citrus, molasses, and sherry are all present in the notes.