Top 10 award-winning bottle designsBy Annie Hayes
Though the liquid in the bottle wins the second sale, it is arguably the packaging that secures the first. Looking across each spirits category, SB picks out the most alluring bottles in the business.
The Spirits Business held its annual Design & Packaging Masters last month, where an experienced panel of judges recognised the best bottlings in the business.
Looking across multiple categories, from Scotch whisky to gin, Tequila to brandy, a wide range of bottles were awarded the top accolades of Master and Gold medals for their quality.
The individual scores of each entrant have not been revealed, however these are 10 of the highest rated medalists in the competition, in no particular order.
While some expressions are not standard priced, our judges have given each bottle listed here the seal of approval for offering excellent quality within their respective price categories.
Click through to the following pages to view the top 10 award-winning bottle designs of 2016.
Hailing from Marcin Miller’s new distillery, Oslo Håndverksdestilleri, Vidda Tørr also impressed to Master standard, and was particularly celebrated for its evocative design. “I love the illustration, and the copy has a sense of humour to it,” one judge noted. “It’s very different to other gins on the market.” Vidda translates as ‘mountain plateau’, and is made from juniper, heather, yarrow, chamomile flower, bilberry, angelica root, meadowsweet, sorrel, calamus root, elderflower and pine shoots – combined to “accentuate” the flavours found on Nordic mountain-plains.
Price: approx £30
Polish vodka brand U’Luvka made a similarly strong impression and was also awarded a Master. Deeming the bottle “weird but very cool”, the panel felt it would stand out well on a back bar due to its height. U’Luvka’s wider pack also impressed the group, with one judge noting that “the booklet that comes with it is very cool and quite interactive. It has recipes and details of the Facebook group and Twitter handle”.
Benromach Speyside Single Malt
The judges immediately found a Master in the form of “stunning” Benromach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky 35 Years Old. “The cuts into the glass are absolutely beautiful and the neck looks like a copper still,” said one judge. Overall, the panel felt the look of the bottle tied in well with the wider Benromach range. “The drop device is used throughout, and as a Friend of Benromach [the distillery’s customer club] you get a droplet copper badge.”
Von Hallers Gin
Price: approx £40
The brand is named in honour of physician, poet and botanist Albrecht Von Haller, who in 1736 established the famous Göttingen botanical gardens. Today these same gardens send a selection of botanicals to Ireland, where they are transformed into a “wholly German, wholly Irish” gin. Judges praised the “great drawing” on the bottle, adding “the print is good, and the over-varnish is a change of pace in the colour on the front”. Overall the bottle was deemed “great” and secured a Master medal.
Affectionally referenced as “the Sriracha of cocktail ingredients”, Ancho Reyes stirred up excitement within the panel, securing a Master medal. “I love everything going on with this label,” said one, while another added, “somehow it looks so classy. I’m slightly in awe”. The liquid is based on a 1927 recipe from Puebla, a town in Mexico known for its ancho chiles.
Named after the red leg hermit crab, native to the coral reefs of the Caribbean – reflected in the design. The spiced rum, which was aged in old oak whilst being infused with Jamaican vanilla and ginger, secured a Master medal for its efforts and won praise for its hand typography. “It feels like you’re on a beach in the Caribbean,” said one judge, while another mused, “the colours are brilliant. You’d think brown on a bottle of rum would be strange but this just works”.
Isle of Harris Gin
Described as “stunning”, the panel was transfixed by Isle of Harris Gin, the bottle of which is manufactured at Yorkshire-based specialist Stölzle. The gin proved so popular upon its release that the company were forced to ration their unique glass bottles in August. “The hint of the blue is like the colour of the sea, the bumps are like the beach,” remarked one judge, while another said,”it’s so beautiful it makes me want to cry – it has a real emotional response”. As such, it too picked up a Master.
Lamberhurst Fine & Rare
Master-winning Lamberhurst Fine & Rare from Chapel Down Winery led the brandy design awards. This English grape expression has been aged for 23 years in oak, with just 2000 bottles ever made. Each bottle is individually numbered by hand and packaged in a premium gift box. “As pure design, it’s so special,” said one judge.
Boatyard Double Gin
Price: approx £45
The Boatyard is one of only five distilleries in the North of Ireland, and its inaugural release, Boatyard Double Gin, set a precedent for the company – securing a Master meal. “The cork is lovely and the nautical style comes through without it being too much,” noted one judge. Another agreed: “They’ve indicated the quantities of the botanicals on the pack, which is very cool – as is the huge lip on the bottle.”
Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
Italian spirits expert Giuseppe Gallo revived the rosolio aperitivo category with the launch of Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, created using a recipe dating back to the 1800s. Hailed as “incredibly stylish” Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, the expression was praised for its colour, stature, and “wonderful” stopper, and secured a Master. Designed by Stranger & Stranger, the Italicus bottle is intended to pay tribute to Italy’s history and heritage along with the native flavours found across the country’s 20 regions. The stopper features a renaissance-style Bacchus harvesting bergamot, framed by the shape of a bergamot fruit, while the colour of the glass is reminiscent of the Grotta Azzura in Capri and the waters of the Amalfi Coast – where Gallo spent his childhood.