What do you do after you make millions in tech, receives accolades as a model husband for one of the world’s top athletes, and father an adorable child? For Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the answer was to get into spirits. On Monday (11.12), Ohanian unveiled Shakmat, an Armenian brandy that he created in collaboration with Flaviar, a direct-to-consumer spirits club.
You read that right: Armenian brandy!
The Brooklyn born Ohanian is the great-grandson of refugees from the Armenian Genocide in the early twentieth century. While visiting his ancestral home in 2010, he discovered the joys of the local distillate.
Fun Fact: Armenian brandy is locally called ‘Konyak.’ (Likely, this name upsets many French people.)
“Armenian brandy is something Armenians are really proud of, but outside of Armenia and the Armenian community, no one really knows it, which is a real shame—it’s legendary,” he said in a statement.
Shakmat is a blended, 23-year-old XO brandy, clocking in at 40% ABV. The spirit is grape based and utilizes a double distillation process involving both a continuous column still and French alembic stills.
The official tasting notes tout Shakmat’s “flavors of dried fruits, nuts and spices, think plums, raisins, walnuts and cloves, as well as rich molasses, tobacco and vanilla notes which are typical of a traditional Armenian Konyak.”
Keeping it local, a portion of the proceeds will help fund the non-profit Armenia Tree Project. As the name suggests, the Tree Project helps reforestation efforts in Armenia.
In a final Armenian touch, Shakmat is an homage to the country’s national game, chess.
“Shakmat (chess) is a big deal in Armenia—it’s a compulsory part of the school curriculum,” Ohanian explained. “To be a great chess player, you need smart moves in the right moment, patience, knowledge, and resourcefulness. These are values that resonated with me, especially as an entrepreneur who looks for these qualities when I’m meeting with founders and determining if we at Initialized Capital should invest in their new venture.”
Ohanian’s partner Flaviar is a spirits club that fuses mail-order sales, curation, and education. The company also began branching out into private bottling recently. (If you are confused, the combined club and mail model exempt Flaviar from “three tier” regulations.)
“Everyone is talking about direct to consumer now, but the Flaviar team has been doing it for years, building a real community of consumers who are passionate about discovering new spirits,” said Ohanian in a statement. “After seeing the launch of Flaviar’s first private label Son of a Peat, I chatted to Jugo & Grisa, the founders of Flaviar, about creating my own spirit.”
The initial run is only 2,400 bottles. For Flaviar members, the price tag is $95; everyone else can buy a bottle on the web for $110.