Responses by Rowena Curlewis, CEO and Caroline Forte, associate creative director, Denomination
Background: The number of gin distilleries opening in the United Kingdom last year increased by 50 percent, with a surge in newcomers offering quirky new ingredients. In contrast, the founders of Smeaton’s discovered an original recipe for Bristol Method Dry Gin and wanted to revive this historical 1870s recipe to create an authentic gin that could stand proudly against the best of modern variants.
Reasoning: We wanted every piece of the packaging to be true to the spirit and heritage of the 1870 Bristol Method recipe, from the glass color to the William Morris-style illustrations to the typography used. Since the keys to this gin were the eight different individually stilled botanicals, the overwrap features illustrations of each botanical.
Challenges: Will Betts, one of Smeaton’s founders, admired the original embossed gin bottles from the nineteenth century, but tooling costs for bespoke glass was beyond reach. Our challenge was: how could we take an “off-the-shelf” bottle and make it feel unique? This was achieved by working closely with our suppliers to create a beautiful inky blue spray, turning the bottle into frosted glass and finishing with screen printed typography.
Favorite details: Every detail links back to the story behind the brand. As well as being named after the road the recipe was founded on, the blue glass itself is synonymous with Bristol. The recipe inspired the typography, and the botanical illustrations celebrates the Arts & Crafts movement of the late nineteenth century. The bespoke print also provided an unusual way of highlighting the distinctive long neck of the bottle.
Anything new: We learnt a lot about Bristol Method Dry Gin! We were fortunate to work directly with the cofounders, who educated our team on the finer details of making gin. We also did a lot of our own research into the heritage on Bristol Gin, which led to us naming the brand after the road that the archived recipe was found.
Specific demands: Attention to detail is crucial in premium packaging and the beauty of Smeaton’s is down to the finish. Coordinating each element in the jigsaw—cork, labels, glass manufacturer, glass decoration, paper wrap and shipper—is always challenging, especially considering the six different suppliers, processes and lead times!