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A message in a bottle

Over the past 10 years the whisky industry has gone through rapid changes in supply, acquisitions or simply in appeal. Consumers have also seen this first hand change especially with more crystal decanters, diamonds and luxury wooden cabinet boxes being used reinforce luxury price points and seriously old and rare whiskies. Every whisky brand has its own unique characteristics and identity. Whether it is heritage or quite simply the taste, the importance of striving for difference has been essential to stand out from the crowd. Today bottle shapes and labels is the first battle ground to show points of differentiation. For many each bottle holds the distillers evolution with times but also have respected its heritage.  

If one looks at the most successful single malts and blends on the market today, the majority have talking points even before you pour the a healthy measure.


Johnnie Walker the world’s leading and arguably the most iconic whisky brand in the world took three generations of the Walker family to create the bottle and label we are familiar today with. The decision to change from a round to a square bottle was a result of export whisky to overseas markets citing fewer breakages when it took to the high seas. The label application onto the bottle was placed specifically at a 24 degree angle providing the most amount of print exposure on the label. The final three talking points were complete by 1909 using different coloured labels to represent different styles of whisky and the introduction of the striding man, initially drawn on the back of a menu over lunch by a famous cartoonist Tom Browne, and a grandson Alexander Walker paying the upmost respect to his grandfather John by changing the name from Walker’s Old Highland whisky to Johnnie Walker.

Cutty Sark a light styled and relatively new blend onto the China market also treads the same boards as Johnnie Walker. Like Johnnie Walker, brand owners Berry Brothers and Rudd recruited a famous Scottish artist James McBey to come up with an iconic image consumers would instantly recognise. The choice was a famous clipper ship of the day by the name of Cutty Sark which is still used today presented on a bright yellow background curtsey of a mistake at the printers! Created in 1923 by London’s elite, they wanted a whisky to enjoy after dinner that was less heavy in style (very traditional of this era.) Cutty Sark was whisky exported from Scotland not to add any colouring. Being a young and rather delicate in flavour the colour was light compared to other whiskies. As a result the whisky was placed into a green bottle to prevent consumers judging it by its colour. Links to using dark bottles such as Lagavulin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig also share this in common but also quite simply state that this was the most traditional way of bottling whisky on the West Coast of Scotland.  

Many whisky brands today continue to look for contemporary design whilst also acknowledging heritage. When Macallan launched their brand in a tall elegant bottle it was essential to have a talking point to introduce consumers to the brand. Sitting proudly on every bottle sits Macallan’s ancestral home of Easter Elchies House built in 1700. Further acknowledgement to the past is also seen within the design incorporating a triangular label that sits in between the shoulders of the bottle that derives from a bottle within the Macallan archives dating back from 1861!


Whether it is the Glenrothes bottle designed to replicate a master blender’s sample bottle, Singleton replicated shape modelled on a 19th century flask, or the three different ceramic coloured bottles to represent the jewels within the UK’s Coronation Crown all provide you with interesting talking points for you to engage with the consumer. However, regardless of how sexy, sleek or eye catching packaging draws consumers in, it still comes down to the overall taste and enjoyment of that specific whisky. 



在過去十年,威士忌產業經歷了急速轉變,供應、收購、甚至是包裝方面也如是。消費者早已看到這種變化,特別是市面上一些古老罕見的威士忌,以水晶醒酒器、或附有鑽石的豪華木製木箱包裝。 每個威士忌品牌都有屬於自己的一些特質, 無論是文化傳承、味道,追求異質性對於品牌能否脫穎而出是至關重要的。 瓶子形狀和標籤,是顯示出差異點的第一個戰場。 對於許多人來說,瓶子會隨著時代而演變,但一定會尊重其傳承。



以世界領先的Johnnie Walker為例,這世界上最具代表性的威士忌品牌,花了整整三代的嵗月創造出我們今天所熟悉的瓶子和標籤。 從原本圓柱形的瓶子變成方瓶,是因為品牌出口到海外能減低瓶子破裂機率; 將瓶子上的標籤應放置在24度角,因為這樣可以最大限度增加資訊量; 另外三個要點於1909年才成形——使用不同色彩的標籤代表不同風格;而那個正在走路的老人,最初是由一位著名漫畫家湯姆·布朗(Tom Browne)於一次午餐時畫在他的餐牌背後,其後一名叫作Alexander Walker的仁兄,為了紀念他的祖父John,將威士忌的名字由原本Walker’s Old Highland whisky改為Johnnie Walker。


Cutty Sark是中國市場上新興品牌,其輕盈風格與Johnnie Walker走的路線大同小異。跟Johnnie Walker一樣,品牌持有者Berry Brothers和Rudd招募了一位蘇格蘭著名藝術家James McBey,創造了一個消費者易於辨認的標誌,那就是當今深入民心,那隻名為Cutty Sark的帆船!創立於1923年,Cutty Sark的創造者希望釀造一款適宜於晚餐後慢慢享受、味道較輕的威士忌(在那個時代非常普遍)。Cutty Sark產於蘇格蘭,年輕而味道相當細緻,釀造過程中不添加任何色素,與其他威士忌相比顏色很淺。因此,酒廠將威士忌注入綠色的瓶中,避免消費者憑顏色去判斷它的品質。市面上也有其他品牌,都使用類似的深色瓶子,如Lagavulin、Ardbeg和Laphroaig,他們會說,這是在蘇格蘭西海岸裝瓶威士忌的傳統方式。

許多威士忌品牌今天繼續尋找當代設計,但同時也尊重傳承。 當Macallan在一個高貴典雅、長身的瓶子裡推出新作品之際,至關重要的是讓消費者了解品牌。 Macallan的每個瓶子都會印有品牌祖傳、建於1700年的Easter Elchies House。在設計中也看到了對於歷史的重視,譬如那三角形標籤,可以追溯到Macallan於1861年的瓶子!

無論是Glenrothes模仿Master Blender的瓶子、Singleton模擬19世紀燒瓶形狀的瓶身設計,或者是以三種不同的陶瓷色彩瓶子代表英國皇冠加冕,都為大眾提供了有趣的談論點,引消費者投入其中。 當然,無論包裝有多性感、時尚、醒目,最終還需靠威士忌的整體味道去獲取飲家的支持度。