The IWSC Packaging awards celebrate superb design – as well as that elusive “wow” factor. By Adam Lechmere

An artisanal gin produced in the British seaside town of Brighton has won a major award at the IWSC – and this time it’s for its appearance.

Brighton Gin
Brighton Gin

Brighton Gin is a small-batch gin made with organic British wheat spirit, and re-distilled with coriander, juniper, orange and lime peel, and milk thistle. The latter is indigenous to the South Downs, the rolling hills outside Brighton, and is “renowned for its kindness to the liver”, its distillers say.

But it’s the look of the bottle – its label in “Brighton Seaside Blue”, as the makers describe it – that clinched its win in the White spirits category at the IWSC Packaging Awards.

Bathtub Cut Gin
Bathtub Cut Gin

The design’s “Great execution and storytelling, through clever and quirky design and content cues sells the brand’s provenance and evokes the sense of the iconic seaside city. Classy and classic,” consultant Rosie Davenport said.

The first batch of 400 bottles of Brighton Gin was launched from the city’s first legal distillery (in the basement of a pub) in 2014, by Brighton residents Kathy Caton and Helen Chesshire. Since then it has consistently won plaudits for its “complex nature, both herbal yet creamy,” as one reviewer put it.

Glenfiddich’s Project XX Single Malt
Glenfiddich’s Project XX Single Malt

Entries to the IWSC Packaging Awards, which apply solely to spirits, are judged on their “creativity, impact, innovation, relevance and originality” by a panel of experts.

The judging panel consisted of Davenport, managing director of Davenport Consulting, Gin specialist David T Smith, brand strategist and whisky consultant Greg Dillon, Mike Axford of the Brand Foundry, and Ivan Bell, managing director of label design specialists Stranger & Stranger.

Cap Mattei Grande Réserve Quinquina Rouge
Cap Mattei Grande Réserve Quinquina Rouge

“Packaging tells more of an illustrative tale than just hinting at what is inside the bottle. Communicating a brand story, illustrating the product’s heritage and authenticity, is vital in snaring the consumer’s interest,” the IWSC says.

There were some 200 entries this year; after the initial judging round, gold medal winners then went forward for six Trophy categories: White spirits, Brown spirits, Contemporary, Traditional, Wow, and Storytelling. The “Wow” category was created to highlight the most quirky and innovative entries.

Glenfiddich’s Project XX Single Malt Scotch Whisky and its IPA Experiment Single Malt jointly won the Brown spirits prize, while the fruit liqueur Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto won the Contemporary category.

Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto
Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

Two Vermouths from Cap Mattei – the Grande Réserve Quinquina Rouge 2015, and the Blanc 2015 – won the Traditional Category. The design is “beautifully executed…traditional with a contemporary twist” Bell said.

Another Vermouth won the Wow category – the glow-in-the-dark UV-sensitive label of the Padró & Co Rojo Amargo. The bottle’s LED-illuminated light box literally wowed the judges.

Smith considered this “a funky new take on Vermouth [which helps] to update its image”; Dillon was concise: “Just wow. A great idea well-executed.”

Padró & Co Rojo Amargo
Padró & Co Rojo Amargo

The final category was won by another artisan gin, South Australia’s Prohibition Liquor Company’s Bathtub Cut Gin. Its label, the producers say, was designed “to evoke [the Prohibition] era and the bootleg philosophy, but in a unique and contemporary manner.”

“A great take on the classic story without leaning on the obvious and overused cues,” Dillon said.

Overall, the Packaging Awards celebrate and reward innovation and imagination. As one judge said, “There are lots of smart new technologies out there, but any packaging must be relevant and meaningful. In the end, you’re trying to get your message across on a very small piece of paper.”

IWSC 2017 Packaging & Design Awards


White Spirits Brighton Gin

Brown Spirits Joint winners – Glenfiddich Project XX Single Malt Scotch Whisky Glenfiddich IPA Experiment Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Contemporary Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto

Traditional Joint winners – Cap Mattei Grande Réserve Quinquina Rouge 2015 (red vermouth) Cap Mattei Blanc 2015 (white vermouth)

Wow (Novelty) Padró & Co. Rojo Amargo –LED Illuminated Light Box (Vermouth)

Storytelling Bathtub Cut Gin

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