Spirits & Looks
Walking down the isle of the local liquor store, bottle after bottle stares back, gin, vodka, whiskey, rum — I know what I want, the sophisticated taste of a drop that could rival the cool demeanor of the ad gods from Mad Men. But I want something new, something crafted. The first step in this illusion is finding the right bottle that promises everything I want awaits inside.
The bottle is a distillery’s calling card. By law distilleries have to tell us: Brand name, alcohol content, net contents, class type, designation name and address of the distiller or bottler, and the government warning statement. On top of it all depending on class and type of spirit, font size and legibility requirements supersede creative license.
Walking beyond the household names of spirits, their familiar faces inspire nothing to me now. Instead, new and exciting faces peek out from the shelves offering new attitudes and experience of the fiery liquids.
As a designer I appreciate these knew faces, how they tell the world of the mystery beyond the cork. Spirit producers are cranking out new concepts, recipes and stretching the limits of their craft. Packaging is no exception, being equally as important in the conception of these new spirits – the distiller wanting the label and bottle to give the user a visceral experience to match their product.
Distillers will take what is important to them in their craft and emulate it. For example Few Spirits felt the importance of bringing new life to the old and traditional. Coming from the birthplace of the Temperance Movement, Few Spirits is the first licensed distillery since the antiquated ‘dry’ laws. In partnership with local marketing group, Wilbum Thomas, new infuses with old with modern bottles and labels that use letterpress styling and showcases historical landmarks from their home, Evanston, IL.
Alaskan Rock Vodka, an Australian small-batch distiller, partnered with industrial design team Vert. Focusing strongly on their bottle and quirky name, the bottle suggests nothing but ice and Alaska. Black, hand-finished Mexican glass with raised lettering in white, wrapped around the side. Rectangular in shape, the front reveals an exaggerated punt mountain range. No detail is left undone, each bottle is hand-labeled showing batch number, bottle number and distilling date.
Spring44 is equally focused on the look of their bottles. As a blender, their bottles depict the key ingredients they use to infuse and perfect their spirits. A giant honeybee covers the label for the honey vodka, distilled with local organic honey.
There are new faces and tastes around every corner. The first step to the first taste is the visual cue to pop the cork and let it pour. My favorite package design sites are lovelypackage.com and thedieline.com. Check out the sites, go to the stores and find a new face and a new taste.