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Whisky design: From Glenmorangie branding to new and classic bottles - including Lagg, Johnnie Walker and The Sasseanch

A Glenmorangie unveils new branding, and Lagg releases images of their first single malt, Rosalind Erskine looks at designs in whisky.

Published: July 30, 2022
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During lockdown, there was a whisky quiz in which a round included guessing the whisky brand by the silhouette of their bottles.

It was surprising how many we all knew, without their distinctive branding, a lesson in how good design - whether it’s based on still shapes or distinctive geometric shapes - will stand the test of time. 

Whisky, and the bottles and branding used to sell it, go back decades. John Walker’s son, Alexander, introduced the now famous Johnnie Walker square bottle for ease of transportation - to reduce breakages and to ensure there was no wasted space in shipping crates.

William Grant & Sons whiskies - Grant’s and Glenfiddich - are known for their triangular-shaped bottle, known as the ‘tround. Again this was developed in the 1950s to help the brands stand out.

In recent years, the launch of Harris Gin in its distinct (and now award-winning) blue bottle once again showed how clever design can elevate a brand.

When speaking to Outlander star Sam Heughan for the Scotsman’s food and drink podcast Scran, he explained how he was inspired by Harris gin when developing a bottle design for his Sassenach whisky, both of which now no doubt feature in many homes as lamp bases - one of the many re-uses for much-loved bottles.

A new kid on the block is Lagg, which unveiled their whisky bottle and release date for their first single malt. Fans online were quickly commenting positively about the bottle shape and rounded wooden lid.

Sustainability is now at the forefront, with Diageo announcing that it has created the world’s first ever 100 per cent plastic free paper-based spirits bottle, made entirely from sustainably sourced wood.

Edinburgh's Scotch Malt Whisky Society to collaborate with Soho House this month

This new look and feel bottle, which will debut with Johnnie Walker, is yet another step in design and whisky, this time with the environment in mind.

Alexander Walker was also responsible for the brand’s slanted label, a trick to help the brand stand out.

New looks in whisky branding are not new, with many going through significant changes in recent years including Benromach’s return to its chimney red colours and Benriach opting for a colour palette inspired by the surrounding Speyside countryside in which the distillery sits.

Now Glenmorangie has unveiled a new look label and bottle, inspired by whisky’s award-winning flavours and heritage.

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Debate also sprang up online about whether this new look will result in more or fewer people pronouncing the distillery name right. As with most things related to whisky, only time will tell.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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