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How to design a killer spirits bottle

Want your new spirits brand to have shelf standout, or better yet, become iconic? Rather than just designing any old bottle or picking an overused mould, bear these five vital points in mind next time you design a bottle.

Designing the perfect bottle is not just a jovial pastime – it’s a significant decision that can make a key difference in terms of influencing customers

You’ve spent years honing your craft, perfecting your spirit, and marketing your brand to the right demographic.

Perhaps your whisky has been maturing in a cask for 20 years, your vodka has been distilled numerous times, or you’ve spent a decade testing different combinations of botanicals for gin.

After such intense craftsmanship, dedication, and (often) sacrifice, designing the perfect bottle is not just a jovial pastime – it’s a significant decision that can make a key difference in terms of influencing customers, and turn your spirit from a lowly beverage container into a coveted collector’s item.

According to Glencairn Crystal: “Designing a bottle for a premium drinks brand is a prestigious project for any designer. Most of the designers we work with are highly creative, with a keen eye for detail and aesthetics and are experienced in many areas of graphic design including labels and packaging.

“However, often, they’ve not actually designed a bottle before and it’s not as straightforward as you might think.”

Time and time again, brands launch updated bottle shapes, special editions, and revamped labeling.

A highly effect bottle design personifies your brand for the public, and is a visible way to promote the morals, personality and heritage that your company stands for.

As such, it’s imperative to get it right – and finding a designer and bottle manufacturer who can sum this up in a functional, effective design can be a challenge.

With this in mind, Glencairn have suggested five vital points to consider before you begin the important journey to designing your bottle. It’ll look good enough to drink in no time.

Alternatively, for a little inspiration click here to view our pick of the world’s most beautiful spirits bottles.

Working to deadline


It’s important to remember that everyone in the chain – from the brand, to the designer, to the bottle manufacturer – will be working to a deadline.

Deciding on your launch date is the first step towards setting a realistic timeline and seeing your idea come to fruition on time. Whether it coincides with an event, a season, or an influential retail period such as Christmas or Valentines Day, decide on a date and stick to it.

To assist you in making that important decision, it can be helpful to speak with the bottle manufacturer.

The process of creating a bottle shape from scratch can be long-winded. The primary step in creating a mould is to first create the bottle design as a 3D image, allowing the manufacturer to estimate how much glass or crystal will be required and calculate the thickness.

Once this has been done, the mould can take between two and five months to create – good to bear in mind when employing your designer.

How heavy?

How-heavyYou’ll need to calculate what your product will weigh once it’s ready for distribution, and a number of factors can influence this.

Deciding to use crystal or glass is a key choice – although crystal is heavier and more expensive than glass, it provides an opaque finish, and casts rainbow prisms when placed in direct sunlight.

Likewise, choosing a stopper can influence the weight of the bottle.
In addition, choosing bespoke packaging or a presentation display can hike up the weight, and in turn, the price.

Filling your bottle


Often overlooked but deserving of careful consideration, deciding on the fill level of the bottle is an area of bottle design it’s easy to forget.

The shape of your design – for example, oval with a shallow neck – will be a deciding factor when it comes to fill, as is the thickness of the material it is made from.

As alcohol expands when it heats up, it’s important to allow for this if the product is going be sold in warmer climates.

Sizing it up

SIZINGYou want your product to stand head and shoulders above the competition – but don’t forget to make sure it fits on the shelf in the first place.

The fact that so many bottles are a similar height and width indicates that this is the optimum size for each stage of the process – from the manufacturing cost, to the space they take up on the shelf.
With this in mind, it’s always worth considering all the potential issues you might face when deciding on the size and shape of your bottle, such as transportation; how many will fit into a case, how many cases will fit on a pallet and how many will you fit on a shelf? And how many will the retailer be able to keep in storage?

In addition, if your bottle is likely to be duty free and therefore carried onto a plane, can it be stored easily and safely?



Plenty of people are involved in your spirit’s journey from bottling plant to consumer – a journey which could end up spanning thousands of miles and a number of continents – so making sure your bottle goes the distance is imperative.

For example, how will you protect it while it travels? This depends on the material you use; crystal is softer and easier to scratch than glass, so taking extra precautions is important.
Is there engraving on the bottle, and if so, how will it look a few months down the line? Will it fade or tarnish?
By carefully considering the route your precious liquid will take and adjusting the bottle to suit, you can tackle obstacles before they occur, and save your company some money – and pride.

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