Bruichladdich cuts carbon with new whisky bottle design by Thirst

Thirst “worked backwards” from the packing pallets for the new packaging, ditching its secondary tin and designing a new bottle 32% lighter than its predecessor.

Thirst has revealed its overhaul of whisky brand Bruichladdich’s packaging and brand identity, which is set to reduce its packaging emissions by 65% using new materials and a modified shape.

A big part of Bruichladdich’s brand story is its contribution to Islay – the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, with a population of 3000 – as the product is grown, distilled and bottled on the island. Bruichladdich is “the biggest private employer on the island”, providing jobs for over 120 people, says its global marketing manager Lynne McEwan.

The distillery also supports initiatives such as regenerative agriculture, a diverse growing programme, and working with farming partners to champion locally grown island barley.

Thirst’s brief was to create a new bottle that embodied the brand’s purpose-driven and progressive goals. Thirst co-founder and executive creative director Matt Burns says the design team “worked backwords”, first looking at the wooden pallets that the bottles are delivered in and then at the material make-up of the bottle.

While having secondary packaging had previously been a sign of luxury, both Thirst and Bruichladdich identified that the outer tin had become an unnecessary embellishment, according to McEwan. Burns adds that Bruichladdich is “leading the way in shifting habits” by proving that “you don’t need to have secondary packaging to represent luxury, quality, or to be interesting”.

The new bottle shape designed by Thirst has a smaller neck and a slimmer silhouette. Burns says this was one of the challenges of the design, as the studio had to “refine the inside of the bottle neck” so that the product didn’t splash when poured.

The previous Classic Laddie bottle contained an average of 15% recycled glass, whereas the new version has around 60% recycled glass and is also 32% lighter than its predecessor. The new shape and increased use of recycled materials seek to reduce Bruichladdich’s global environmental impact, as it can now transport more 60% more bottles per pallet, “cutting its CO2 packaging emissions by 65%”, says McEwan.

Other sustainable features include the use of a water-based, organic ink coating and the polypropylene closure and cork, which are made from a synthetic resin made from bio-based sources.

Elevating the branding was also part of Thirst’s brief. Bruichladdich’s aqua blue colour, which is unusual for its category, remains the same, as does its use of Bauhaus-inspired, utilitarian design principles, according to Burns.

The layout of graphics on the bottle follows a grid system, detailing the story of Bruichladdich’s 2001 resurrection and evolution since and showcasing its stamp of B-Corp accreditation. The new version also includes a QR code that consumers can use to learn more about the initiatives that Bruichladdich supports as well as a symbol of its Islay origins embossed around the neck.

Bruichladdich’s wordmark now appears larger on the bottle and in a new typeface. Its previous logotype was off-the-shelf whereas the new version has been modified through “subtle but distinctive changes in the spacing” and a smoother connection of the central L and A, says Burns. He describes it as “an example of marginal gains in action” that also nods to the brand’s attention to detail.

Burns hopes that other whisky brands will “follow their lead” and realise that “you don’t have to sacrifice your brand for sustainability”.

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