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What's in a bottle? Barry Island Spirits gets a new look

In October 2021 we relaunched our whole bottle range in new, custom bottles. More than just a vanity packaging project, the need for new bottles arose at the end of the previous year… when we started work on our Pink Gin.

So, why did our pink gin need us to rethink our bottles I hear you ask. No, it’s not because we wanted a prettier looking bottle… but the need to protect the ‘pinkness’ of our gin! You see, like a of things, if you expose a coloured liquid to UV light for any prolonged period then it’s likely the colour with fade. Because the pink of our Pink Gin is so delicate, we couldn’t use a clear bottle or otherwise we’d run the risk of the liquid losing its pinkness. So, we started the challenge of designing a bottle that would evolve our brand, look great but also be very practical…

The first consideration was the bottle itself. Our old-shaped bottles had a few issues with them in terms of practicality. As we were changing the design, we decided to change the bottle. We knew we wanted to use glass made in the UK (as well as supporting home-grown manufacturers, the impact of Brexit added vast lead times and a whole load of extra cost to importing anything). We also knew that we wanted a sleeker design with a longer, more grabbable neck. You see, as bartenders when we’re making cocktails or on a busy shift, we need to be able to handle our bottles easily and quickly - A longer neck on a bottle makes it more ‘grabbable’.

We also wanted to stick with a cork stopper rather than screw top, the bottle couldn’t be too tall as otherwise it would cause complications with filling, and it needed to come in 5cl and 70cl sizes so that our full-size bottles and miniatures match.

Just when we were getting a little concerned that we were asking too much, we discovered the Titus bottle! With the first hurdle cleared, the next challenge was the design…

We love our designer Josh, he always manages to turn our garbled briefs in to something beautiful. Our new bottles are a great example of this. Having designed our brand and the labels for our original bottles Josh was able to deftly advance the design to wrap all the way around the bottle. I mentioned earlier that we knew we could have a clear bottle. A lot of drinks producers opt for 100% opaque bottles when faced with this problem. However, with our bartender heads on, it’s a nuisance when a bottle is 100% opaque because you can’t see how much liquid is left inside. This causes a headache for stock taking and on a busy shift when you run out of a bottle because you couldn’t easily tell how much liquid was inside!

We have a lit-up backbar in Craft Republic and 100% opaque bottles don’t look quite as good as ones that allow the light to shine through. We opted for a compromise and agreed on an 80% opacity finish spray as the base coat, which gives our bottles the appearance of well-worn sea glass which complements our brand perfectly

None of us (Josh included) had ever undertaken design and print on a 3D item so this project tested our nerve, our patience and in all honesty it was just really, really scary! Firstly because of the potential cost of getting in wrong (eek) and secondly the impact it would have on the timings of the product launch of our Pink Gin.

When we saw the design for the Pink Gin bottle, we fell totally in love with it… so we decided to roll the design out across the rest of the range as well!

Each of our spirits has its own colour on the base and its own unique pattern. Our colours are inspired by the landscape around our home on Barry Island (for example the blue used for our Dry Gin is inspired by the sea and the yellow inspired by the colour of the beautiful promenade and shelters around Whitmore Bay). The patterns all have a wave-like quality and reflect the drink in some way (for example our Pink Gin pattern looks like grapefruit segments while our Organic Vodka pattern looks a bit leafy and organic). As well as looking pretty, the wrapped pattern adds a tactile quality to the bottle which again helps with grabability which is useful in a bar setting.

When the first samples arrived from the bottle producers it was a real hold-your-breath moment. Had the artwork been set up correctly for the bottles, were the colour references right, had we got the specification right for the printing… Luckily all our careful checking (and double checking) had paid off. The samples were stunning!

Due to Brexit, Covid, cardboard shortages, retirement, lorry driver shortages and a few other *treats* thrown in along the way, our new bottles took us over a year to produce and have been an absolute labour of love. In the middle of September our bottles finally arrived ready to be filled – only 4 months later than the original date that we’d been given!

We absolutely love our new bottles. They align with our brand and finally represent the high-quality liquids that they hold. In April 2022 we were thrilled to be named as a winner in Design and Branding category of The Gin Guide’s 2022 awards. Awarded to the distilleries or brands that have most successfully and consistently achieved their design and branding objectives, with strong concepts and personality, aesthetic appeal, identity and identifiability, audience suitability, brand development that goes beyond the bottle, and proven impact and success.

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