EMERALD SKY | How a mythical bear brought cannabis licorice to life

Sandy Cohen
Apr 9, 2019

The bear made him do it.

There were many times when Josh Taylor considered giving up on his cannabis brand Emerald Sky. But Cirrus, the mythical bear, wouldn’t allow it.

“Cirrus actually helped me give birth to the company,” Taylor says of the mythical “enlightened California bear” on Emerald Sky’s logo.

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Taylor, a longtime confectioner, had been making sweets for three decades, working with major companies like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Newman’s Own. In cannabis, he wanted to apply one of his most rare and difficult-to-master skills: licorice.

Taylor struggled at first to get the dosing right, and with licorice already complex enough to balance, anyone would become frustrated. But Taylor’s mind kept turning to Cirrus.

Cirrus the bear blesses every Emerald Sky product [photo courtesy of Emerald Sky].
Designed by Taylor and his creative team, Cirrus is almost like a bear version of Ganesh, with four arms and a wealth of wisdom. His image and poetic origin story adorn every package of Emerald Sky.

“I’ve probably done at least 800 products in my career that have made it through to shelves … and this is the best work I’ve ever been involved with,” Taylor says. “I had to bring this packaging into the world.”

Licorice ain’t easy.

When it comes to sweets, licorice is among the most difficult to make, Taylor says. The machinery is expensive, facilities are few.

“There are approximately 2,000 chocolate makers in America and several hundred gummy makers,” he says. “There are four licorice manufacturers – of which we’re one.”

He’s been making licorice for various companies for more than 15 years, developing invaluable experience that informed Emerald Sky’s flavors. But injecting those tasty morsels with cannabis presented a steep learning curve, Taylor says.

Emerald Sky licorice [photo courtesy of Emerald Sky]
To solve its dosing challenges, Emerald Sky developed proprietary technology to allow for precise and replicable infusion, so each individually wrapped piece of licorice carries the promised amount of THC and CBD.

Flavors and formulas.

With spiritual support from Cirrus, Emerald Sky launched its first four flavors on Eaze in 2018: Grape Noir (indica), Alpine Strawberry (sativa), Mountain Black (hybrid) and Ruby Fruits (1:1 THC:CBD).

“Black licorice does a better job than anything I’ve tasted at covering the taste of cannabis,” Taylor says.

Emerald Sky co-founders Nathan Wyss (left) and Josh Taylor (right) on the first day their product shipped in 2018 [photo courtesy of Emerald Sky]
New flavors in the works for a line of gummies include Apple-Pear, Orange, and Wild Berry, which will hit the market in the coming months.

Even with his long and successful candy past, which includes hundreds of products in thousands of stores, Taylor says he feels a special passion for his newest venture, largely because of the benevolent bear who symbolizes it.

“I do think Emerald Sky packaging is the best I’ve ever worked with,” Taylor says. “So I feel a stronger connection to Emerald Sky than to any of my previous work.”

[Product(s) named in this story are registered under California license CDPH-T00000285]

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