A toast to the remarkable journey of the bottle

Whiskey glass bottle packaging design

How receptacles that are multipurpose, beautiful, and filled with quality enable brands to hand deliver a very personal message.

From precious perfumes and oils to essential medicines and fine spirits, glass, with its unique set of material advantages, continues to stand out as an exceptional choice in the premium and luxury sectors.

Long after the science of distillation and the transformation of humble ingredients into exquisite spirits, countless fine examples of bottles that could be classed as works of art in their own right remain.

While age and flavour are a source of pride for distilleries, the spotlight on bottle design has opened avenues for artistic collaborations that brands hope will leave an indelible mark on the history of design.

As you peruse the very latest innovations in bottle-making at September’s London Packaging Week, you will find products that exude quality, craftsmanship, and attention to detail, making the product contained within seem more valuable and desirable. Many of these are made possible by glass’ ability to captivate and inspire.

Glass is synonymous with luxury and sophistication. Its ability to elevate the perceived value of spirits is unrivalled, influencing consumer perception and positioning the product as a premium offering.

Conveying quality and encapsulating the essence of the liquid are dominant considerations for brands, that, with crowded shelves and discerning customers, must ace this critical touchpoint.

A more sustainable brand experience

Designers are pushing boundaries like never before. In this dynamic landscape, they leverage technology, storytelling, and creative aesthetics to captivate consumers and make a lasting impression on the shelves. London Packaging Week is a place for those constantly looking for innovations to bring to life.

All our PLD exhibitors are well-versed in connecting the attitude of spirits brands with consumer demands for aesthetic appeal and functional utility in packaging, but those attitudes are shifting.

While suggestions of fond farewells being said to glass spirits bottles are the stuff of fantasy, the lightweighting of bottles and elimination of secondary packaging has quickly come to indicate a modern-day premium expression.

Integrating innovative engineering techniques to make lighter bottles still feel premium has seen lightweighting become fundamental to glass manufacturing. Meanwhile, for decades, producers have used presentation boxes, tins, and tubes to ramp up gift-worthiness, with consumers viewing these elements as reassuringly luxurious. But they, too, could soon become a thing of the past.

As spirits producers prioritise eradicating secondary packaging in their sustainability roadmaps, the mindset of gift and luxury being more focused on the liquid in the bottle, not the box, is increasing.

A case in point would be Bruichladdich introducing new packaging for its flagship single malt, the Classic Laddie. The revamped bottle contains 60% recycled glass and is 32% lighter than its previous iteration. Its signature aqua hue comes from an organic ink coating, and its closure and cork are made of polypropylene, produced from bio-based sources.

However, one of the most significant aspects of the redesign is that the new-look Classic Laddie comes without a tin, cutting the Scotch whisky maker’s CO2 emissions by 65%.

And they’re not alone. Diageo, too, has launched a programme to remove 183 million cardboard gift boxes across its premium Scotch offering as part of its Society 2030 sustainability scheme.

Behind the bottle

The journey of the glass bottle has been fascinating. From the advent of glassblowing in the first century AD, to the invention of the glass bottle stopper in the 17th century that made it essential to households everywhere, you could say that the bottle has mirrored the diverse needs and preferences of society. Each bottle, no matter the contents, has its own personality and soul.

Whether it’s the so-recognisable Chanel No.5 bottle dreamt up in 1922, Heinz’s iconic Ketchup bottle, patented in 1890, or the contour fluted lines of the Coca-Cola bottle, a bottle’s silhouette makes a powerful statement. Through shape, brands set a tone for themselves.

However, that could all change with Article 9 of PPWR requiring the weight and volume of packaging to be scaled down to its minimum size. With ‘consumer acceptance’ and ‘marketing and product presentation’ deleted from the performance criteria listed in Annex IV, signature bottles that use more glass to achieve specific shapes could be pushed out of the European market.

Modern bottles often transcend utility, profoundly shaping consumer perception and fortifying brand identity. The fear is that under the new regulations, packaged products could start to look the same, stymying creative designs and iconic shapes.

Creating an eye-catching, memorable bottle is both an art and a science. It transcends the mere liquid inside. Consider for a moment you are standing surveying the shelves, your eyes journeying up the sleek glass surface, hunting for visual hooks. Whether it’s achieving customised designs and unique identity through metal decoration, embossed logos and text, stamping, labelling, or foil accents, the possibilities with glass are endless. In terms of offering a versatile canvas for branding, the material is unparalleled.

This creativity and innovation will be on full show at London Packaging Week this year, with the event set to prove its worth in helping brands navigate the intricate interplay between design innovation, consumer psychology, and the enduring allure of glass packaging.

Glass, being impermeable and chemically inert, ensures that the original flavour and quality of the spirit are impeccably preserved and delivered as intended. Its transparency allows consumers to appreciate the color and clarity of the spirit inside visually, then add its resistance to scratches and scuffs, meaning it can maintain a premium look over time, and the recyclability and sustainability credentials of the material are indisputable.

Today, drinks aficionados expect more from drinking vessels. They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Well, beverage brands only have a fleeting moment to catch your eye as you scan the shelves. Nowadays, precise details pour into every brushstroke of label designs; even the bottle shape is known to influence your perceptions subliminally.

Brands looking to bring visions that spark intrigue, wonder, or even a sense of nostalgia, would be well advised to begin that process at London Packaging Week. There, they can explore everything from the weight and shape of bottles to the visuals, such as logos, labels, and secondary packaging. The two-day event offers an unrivalled and focused forum to source the latest packaging solutions, meet new suppliers and solve some of the biggest innovation challenges. 

By staying attuned to emerging trends and consumer preferences, brands can elevate their drink packaging from mere vessels to powerful brand ambassadors. Glass bottles, with their timeless elegance and versatility, continue to offer unparalleled quality, sustainability, and aesthetic appeal.

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