The Design & Packaging Masters 2022 results
When it comes to choosing a bottle of spirit from the shelf, catching the eye of a potential buyer is vitally important. Our annual Design & Packaging Masters praises the brands standing out in a crowded market.
They say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but also, it is well-known that aesthetics play a huge part in persuading a customer to make an initial purchase. However, in recent years, a well-executed bottle design must offer more than simply being pleasing to the eye. Today’s discerning consumers are looking for functionality and, importantly, eco-friendly qualities.
Our judges considered all of these needs while judging The Design & Packaging Masters 2022. Sitting on the first of two panels were: Dimple Athavia, founder of All Things Drinks; Catarina Costa, senior product designer at Amorim Top Series; and Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Competitions.
The second team was chaired by David T Smith, spirits writer, consultant and co-founder of the Craft Distilling Expo. He was accompanied by: Elise Craft, Whisky Squad co-host; and Rob Hollands, managing director of design agency Sharpend.
The judging began with a flight of Vodka, during which two Gold medals and one Silver were awarded. Gold-winning Sir Dam Vodka was described as “quite beautiful” by Athavia, who also noted the bottle’s good recyclable credentials. Altamura Distilleries Vodka also secured a Gold medal for being a “nice-looking bottle” that “touts the Italian provenance of the spirit”.
In the Gin portion of the competition, the first Master of the day was found in Kings Hill Rhubarb & Raspberry. Costa said: “Beautifully curated bottle design from the bottom to the top.”
Athavia was also impressed. She added: “This bottle could easily be reused; it’s very stunning with the pink gin inside.”
Among the six Gold medals also awarded in this flight, one was given to Xin Gin, which had “strong shelf standout”, and was “very giftable”. Bombay Sapphire Basquiat Special Edition also secured a Gold award, enjoyed for its “nice graphic design arrangement and good glass finishing”.
Two Silver medals completed the gin portion of the contest.
“There’s a lot of minimalism in some ways, and others took a maximalist approach,” noted Athavia.
A trio of entries from Tequila Cazadores collected Silver medals in the Tequila flight: Tequila Cazadores Blanco, Tequila Cazadores Reposado, and Tequila Cazadores Añejo.
In the following flight of Mezcal, Desolas Mezcal was awarded a Gold medal, described as delivering a “sophisticated design without being stuffy – the fonts are great and modern, very cool”.
The Rum round brought four more Master medals to the table. Copeland Smugglers’ Reserve Rum received the top award for impressive “copper accents on the black matte design”, enhanced further by “pops of teal-like green”.
Master-winning Burdekin Rum secured a Master medal for its “beautiful and well-finished graphic labels”, as noted by Costa. “Good and sustainable closure; has a concept from top to bottom.”
The two remaining Master medals in this flight were awarded to La Hechicera for its Reserva Familiar expression, and the brand’s Serie Experimental No. 2 – The Banana Experiment. The judges said about the latter bottle: “This is a masterclass in thoughtful design. The bottle, the weight, the paper stock, the illustration – all well-thought through. Lively and attractive design, it feels fun and energetic. The packaging serves the story perfectly.”
Four Golds were handed to: “fun, with good use of textures and colours” Havana Club 7 X Bad Gyal; “vibrantly designed” Havana Club 7 X Burna Boy; Angostura Tamboo with its “pleasing overall aesthetic”; and Lazy Dodo Rum, said to be a “fun gifting idea”.
The flight finished with seven Silver medals.
A de Fussigny Cognac 2050 was also credited for being Gold-worthy after impressing during the Cognac heat. The liquid came packaged in a fully plant-based bottle, making it extremely light and sustainably sound. The judges were huge fans of this progressive move – particularly in a historic, traditional category such as Cognac – and noted how there could be some very exciting enhancements from this style in years to come. For example, Athavia said: “I’d love to know more about the materials, and why they were chosen. Perhaps a QR code could be added to give more information. But it is a fantastic concept.”
In the Brandy heat, a Gold medal was handed to “slick, sophisticated” St-Rémy Signature. The judges liked the embossing on the stopper, and the “minimalist, but well-made” label.
“Contemporary” Battery Point Whisky made a lasting impression on Smith’s team in the World Whisky heat. Craft summed up the panel’s thoughts: “Perfection. It’s got such a confident voice, such minimalist restraint.”
The Master-level continued into the American Whiskey round, where four Master medals were awarded. First, Castle & Key Untold Story received the top medal for its “striking design” and “playful key detail around the closure – a very beautiful bottle”.
Master-winning Bevridge American Single Malt Kit delivered a “modern” gift pack. “You would not be disappointed if you received this sample pack as a gift,” noted Kiely. “The white, textured box is very elegant. Overall, a very effective and beautiful pack of miniatures; a perfect gifting opportunity.”
Bird Creek Distillery Baroness/Halfpint American Whiskey also secured a Master medal. Craft was drawn to the compass in the stopper – “[it’s] the only element of the product that isn’t typically recyclable, but I think people will want to keep it”, she said.
“Stunning” Hirsch Horizon collected a Master medal for “unusual details, such as the indented bottle sides, also mimicked on the label”. The teal/green colour choice was also highlighted as an attractive, bold option.
Six Gold-worthy entries were also rewarded in this round, and one Silver. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey collected three Gold medals in this flight for its “undeniably well-designed, consistent, confident and masterful” bottle designs. Its winning bottles were: Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey, Uncle Nearest Uncut & Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey; Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition – Batch 012; and Old Potrero, celebrated for its “intricately-made label, with metallic accents and cut-out details”, .
As the judging moved from American whiskeys to those made in Ireland, Irish Distillers secured a Master medal. Method and Madness Single Pot Still Finished in Japanese Chestnut Casks was awarded a Master accolade for its “original” bottle shape and “nice use of texture with embossed details”. “It’s become quite an iconic design,” said Kiely.
Five Gold medals were also awarded to “regal, strong, sophisticated” Bushmills Single Malt Range; Jameson Black Barrel, a “nice elevation on the original design”; Powers, with its “good colour balance”; Powers John’s Lane, which had “beautiful attention to detail”; and Redbreast 12 Years Old Birdfeeder, which came in a reusable birdfeeder, which the judges said “tied into the brand nicely” but unfortunately was “tricky to get into”.
The Irish Whiskey contingent concluded with four Silver medals.
Scotch Whisky proved to be another strong round, as another two Masters were discovered. Compass Box Menagerie offered a “vintage artwork feel”, that delivered an overall “clean aesthetic, very tactile”, noted Athavia.
Master-winning King’s Inch also impressed the judges. Craft said: “I really love the restraint of this, and that it manages to feel very modern, without feeling out of category.”
Hollands was also intrigued by the design. He said: “This stands out in the whisky category while respecting/perfectly balancing the traditional visual cues. This would appeal across generations. Great to see a QR code linking from the pack.”
Two Gold medals and two Silvers were also found in the Scotch Whisky flight. Coachbuilt Whisky won a Gold medal for its “metropolis vibes”. Stranger & Stranger took a gold for its GinGin design.
From there, the panels turned their attention to a flight of Liqueurs, where three products impressed enough to join the growing number of Master winners.
Capitán Fresón, a strawberry cream liqueur with Tequila, bagged the top medal. “Love, love, love,” enthused Craft. “This is outstanding branding – it’s fun, it’s well-crafted, the QR code takes you straight to Instagram and their customer’s world – it’s perfection.” Limoncello Mamma Mia also proved its worth as a Master contender. “Greatly designed with the positive aspect of crafted packaging,” said Costa.
Meanwhile, Master-winning Amaretto Adriatico Roasted was hailed for its “unusual bottle shape”, with “gold accents, and classic Italian feel but with a cool, modern flair”.
Four Gold medals enhanced the flight further, including a medal for Savoia Americano Rosso with its “elegant, appealing” bottle. A Silver medal completed the flight.
The penultimate round showcased a selection of Speciality Spirits, among which two Gold medals were given. Hard Fizz claimed a Gold medal for its “creative solution” to a four-pack plastic binder. “The cans look modern and attractive, but the binder is the really creative part,” Kiely said.
Carlow Cuttings Botanical Spirit secured a Gold medal for the “colour coordination” between its bottle and liquid, and “modern-looking artwork”. The flight finished with two Silver medals.
In the final flight, Pre-Mixed & RTD, a respectable Silver medal was awarded to NIO Cocktails’ Negroni pouch. The judges took to the concept of the ready-made cocktail but wondered, could there be a better material to replace the plastic pouch inside the postbox-friendly cardboard packaging?
After a short break, the judges were left with one important decision: which bottling should take the title of Best in Class for The Design & Packaging Masters 2022. The decision was far from easy but after careful consideration, the thoughtful, minimalist, effective design of Battery Point Whisky won the coveted overall title.
Across the board it was evident producers did seem to be giving greater attention to the sustainability of their packaging designs, although a number of producers were still opting for plastic stoppers instead of natural options like cork or glass.
Furthermore, there was a higher number of entries embracing the power of digital, and incorporating QR codes or other digital cues on their bottles. These developments left the judges eager to see what forward-thinking designs might come to market over the coming year.
|Sir Dam Vodka||Sir Dam Vodka||Gold|
|Altamura Distilleries||Altamura Distilleries Vodka||Gold|
|Pur Sang Vodka||Pur Sang Vodka||Silver|
|The Pentland Still||Kings Hill Rhubarb & Raspberry||Master|
|The Pentland Still||Kings Hill Original||Gold|
|Paó de Sitges Gin||Paó de Sitges Gin||Gold|
|Ahascragh Distillery||Xin Gin||Gold|
|Knockout||Bombay Citron Pressé||Gold|
|Knockout||Bombay Sapphire Basquiat Special Edition||Gold|
|Highclere Castle Spirits||Highclere Castle Gin||Silver|
|Seventy One Gin||Seventy One Gin||Silver|
|Tequila Cazadores||Tequila Cazadores Añejo||Silver|
|Tequila Cazadores||Tequila Cazadores Reposado||Silver|
|Tequila Cazadores||Tequila Cazadores Blanco||Silver|
|Desolas Holdings||Desolas Mezcal||Gold|
|Copeland Distillery||Copeland Smugglers’ Reserve Rum||Master|
|La Hechicera Company||La Hechicera Serie Experimental No. 2 –
The Banana Experiment
|La Hechicera Company||La Hechicera Reserva Familiar||Master|
|Havana Club||Havana Club 7 X Bad Gyal||Gold|
|Havana Club||Havana Club 7 X Burna Boy||Gold|
|Grays||Lazy Dodo Rum||Gold|
|Papa’s Pilar Rum||Papa’s Pilar 2022 Legacy Edition Release||Silver|
|Anora||Barracuda Raspberry Spiced||Silver|
|Havana Club||Havana Club 7 Golden Bottle||Silver|
|Anora||Barracuda Vanilla Spiced||Silver|
|Grays||Lazy Dodo XO Chronicles||Silver|
|Havana Club||Havana Club 7 X Frenna||Silver|
|A de Fussigny||A de Fussigny Cognac 2050||Gold|
|St‐Rémy Brandy||St‐Rémy Signature||Gold|
|Denomination||Battery Point Whisky||Master & Best in Class|
|Stranger & Stranger||Bevridge American Single Malt Kit||Master|
|Stranger & Stranger||Castle & Key Untold Story||Master|
|Stranger & Stranger||Hirsch Horizon||Master|
|CF Napa Brand Design||Bird Creek Distillery Baroness/
Halfpint American Whiskey
|Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey||Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch Whiskey||Gold|
|Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey||Uncle Nearest Uncut & Unfiltered Straight Rye Whiskey||Gold|
|Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey||Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition – Batch 012||Gold|
|CF Napa Brand Design||Sonoma Distilling Co Straight Bourbon Whiskey||Gold|
|Stranger & Stranger||Old Potrero||Gold|
|Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey||Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey||Gold|
|Watermark Design||Penelope Bourbon||Silver|
|Irish Distillers||Method and Madness Single Pot Still
Irish Whiskey Finished in Japanese Chestnut Casks
|Stranger & Stranger||Bushmills Single Malt Range||Gold|
|Irish Distillers||Jameson Black Barrel||Gold|
|Stranger & Stranger||Powers||Gold|
|Irish Distillers||Powers John’s Lane||Gold|
|Irish Distillers||Redbreast 12 Years Old Birdfeeder||Gold|
|The Spearhead Group||Four Walls 15 Years Cask Strength Irish Whiskey||Silver|
|Anora||Carlow Counting Days Irish Whiskey||Silver|
|The Craft Irish Whiskey Co||The Aodh||Silver|
|The Craft Irish Whiskey Co||The Emerald Isle||Silver|
|Stranger & Stranger||Compass Box Menagerie||Master|
|Courageous Spirits||King’s Inch||Master|
|Coachbuilt Whisky||Coachbuilt Whisky||Gold|
|Stranger & Stranger||GinGin||Gold|
|Knockout||Monkey Shoulder Limited Edition||Silver|
|Cask 88||The Book of Daemonologie (Scottish Witchcraft Series)||Silver|
|The Finest Group||Cream Heroes – Strawberry Cream Liqueur
with Tequila Capitán Fresón
|SAS Bellaventura France||Limoncello Mamma Mia||Master|
|SAS Bellaventura France||Amaretto Adriatico Roasted||Master|
|Casa Savoia||Savoia Americano Rosso||Gold|
|Grays||Seven Seas Mokoko||Gold|
|Quick Brown Fox||Quick Brown Fox Coffee Liqueur||Gold|
|Stranger & Stranger||Rockey’s Milk Punch||Gold|
|Maison Brillet||Belle de Brillet||Silver|
|Hard Fizz||Hard Fizz||Gold|
|Anora||Carlow Counting Days Botanical Spirit||Gold|
|CF Napa Brand Design||Smuggling Nun Irish Poitín||Silver|
Pre‐Mixed & RTD