The world of the alcohol and liquor industry is a fierce one. This saturated market and intense competition doesn’t simply rely on the quality or the flavor of any specific product; it’s instead a very spirited (pun intended) battle for the best position on the shelves – the primary weapons of choice being striking packaging and branding design.
While most brands bring their A-game almost exclusively to limited edition bottles to celebrate important historical events, landmark occasions, or new range/flavors, some invest in a sophisticated theme for permanent premium designs that are here to stay.
DesignRush presents spirit packaging designs that transcend mere branding in today's roundup. They are becoming works of art with their use of colors, intricate illustrations, special print effects, and high-end packaging materials!
Without further ado, these are the best of the best spirit packaging designs:
Table of Contents
1. Metaxa Grande Fine by Karavellas x Team
- Nationally-inspired color palette
- Unique bottle shape
- Intrinsically Greek
Over the past couple of years, there seems to have been an unprecedented number of unveiled bottle designs that are revamping the industry as a whole. However, rarely could we see such a seamless blend of contemporary design and deeply rooted traditional elements that adorn the Metaxa Grande Fine bottle.
Appointed by the House of Metaxa, Karavellas x Team worked closely with the Greek street artist Cacao Rocks to bring life to the third edition of this iconic decanter.
His original painting masterfully pays tribute to the natural beauty of Greece, its rich tradition and history, craftsmanship, art, and ultimately, the way of living. Expressionist only at first glance, it seamlessly “hides” familiar Greek symbols, toponyms, and archeological finds.
Cacao Rocks’ primary source of inspiration comes from his French grandfather, who discovered Greece during the Second World War and fell in love with its culture and traditions. After the horrors of war, he traveled far to the Cyclades, where he nurtured his talent for film photography. His favorite island, Mykonos, where he took hundreds of pictures, enchanted him with its architecture, windmills, art, and intrinsically bohemian lifestyle.
The color palette, while inspired by the national flag, draws heavily from personal impressions: ample porcelain white for the Greek architecture, blue instead of the Aegean Sea, and gold accents that represent the sun-bathed Cyclades.
Note how the three sides of the gift box, when put next to each other, complete the Metaxa Grande Fine’s visual identity, emphasizing its presence on the store shelves.
2. Ezra Brooks Distiller’s Collection by David Cole Creative
- A distinct combination of black and gold hues
- Traditional typography
- Timeless design
The Ezra Brooks hails from the newly built Lux Row Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Initially created back in 1957. By the Hoffman Distilling Company, the brand revamped in the early nineties transitioning from undervalued bourbon to the luxury spirit we know and love today.
The packaging, courtesy of David Cole Creative, draws heavily from the rich local tradition. While relatively simple, elegant, and straightforward it reflects the timeless opulence and class without resorting to overwrought and extravagant ornamentation. Simple as that.
Everything about this bottle screams Kentucky, but the color combination on the label is undoubtedly the most interesting aspect. While the pairing of black and gold usually communicates splendor, in this case, it visually emphasizes the drink’s distinctive taste – the dark, rich, and oaky flavor with a pinch of light, caramelized vanilla aftertaste.
3. Filey Bay by The Collaborators
- Distinctive, origin-inspired color scheme
- “Engraved” bottle
- Classy typography moving away from whiskey branding conventions
Tom Mellor, a North Yorkshire farmer and brewer, had already set up the highly successful Wold Top brewery. Recently, looking to diversify his business further, with the help of his closest friend and business partner David Thompson, he’d set his sights on creating Yorkshire’s first single malt whisky. The fruits of that endeavor? The Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery!
The aptly named, The Collaborators agency was tasked to create the distillery’s new flagship single malt brand, Filey Bay, alongside defining the brand strategy, identity, and, most importantly, packaging.
Rather than relying on your typical whiskey branding, the agency focused on drawing out Filey Bay’s unique provenance and process: A whisky made from the field and bottled on the North Yorkshire coast, with home-grown barley and spring water from their farm on the Wolds. Distilled and matured near its namesake (Filey Bay) using England’s only pot and column still combination.
The resulting product? Respectful of tradition, but done the Yorkshire way. And the packaging reflects that Yorkshire “twist” perfectly.
With a unique, distinctive, and grounded bespoke bottle design, it has a subtle nod to traditional whisky category conventions. The Collaborators created a classy, modern design, playing on the textures found on the wet sands of Filey Bay, the ever-changing sea, and the freshly plowed fields of the distillery’s farm.
The color palette, i.e., the soft azure hue, was inspired by vast Yorkshire skies, muted tones of the Wolds, The North Sea coast, and the splice of copper where Filey Brigg stretches out into the sea.
Every element of the brand identity, from the concept to the design detailing, has been carefully considered to reflect a true sense of place and the people that make it.
4. WINDHILL Whiskey by Studio 022
- Minimalistic design approach
- Rounded bottle shape
- Distinct illustration
While Japan may not be the first country that comes to mind when we say whiskey, the Land of the Rising Sun proved to be one of the leading players in the industry. The production of Japanese-style whiskey began as a conscious effort to recreate the style of Scotch whiskey but, over time, it transcended the initial goal, as proven by our fourth entry.
Windhill whiskey was imagined as a premium brand of single malt whiskey inspired by the designs of some of the most famous Japanese brands.
As passionate whiskey enthusiasts, Studio 022 decided to make a whiskey brand design (and packaging) worthy of this fantastic drink.
Premium quality was represented with the deliberate use of gold accents on a dark background. What makes it stand out is the emphasized simplicity of the design. Coming from a country that invented minimalistic aesthetic tendencies, Windhill is bound to turn the heads of whiskey lovers around the globe.
The idea for a logo design was once again minimalistic with a focus on the masculinity of the drink. On the other hand, the leaf branch illustration calls to mind the delicate art of the Edo period, making the packaging an alluring blend of contemporary and traditional.
5. Whisky Is The Limit by ByVolume
- "Disrupting a conservative sector with a vibrant identity”
- Joyful design
- Custom illustrations
Whisky Is The Limit (WITL) began life on social media, opening the door to a rather exclusive spirit category to broader audiences. Building up a loyal following, sharing stories, travel logs and tasting notes made whisky, in general, more inclusive.
Having established excellent relationships with distilleries worldwide, they were ready to start selecting and bottling their products.
The first challenge ByVolume faced was overcoming the conservative image of the sector to reveal its genuine boldness and progressive spirit packaging. They've created a brand that feels exciting and accessible to adult drinkers from all backgrounds and levels of interest.
The agency developed a strategy that reflected the joy of discovering a great whisky. Your typical imagery of luxurious weekend estates, drinking ages-old whisky by the fireplace is thrown into the trash. In its stead - a creative direction that shuns old stereotypes.
The new logo system composed of hand-drawn lettering in a broad pastel-hued color palette is akin to something found in the craft beer industry. When paired with an illustrative pyramid logomark, it evokes the ideas of height, visually playing with the old sentiment: Sky is the limit! It doesn’t only reflect the simple novelty but also the limitless possibilities of whiskey.
For the packaging design, or to be precise, for each “member” of WITL’s range, the agency drew from each distillery’s history, locales, and mythology. Each bottle is adorned with abstract landscapes overlaid with more detailed spirit animals that embody each whiskey’s character. Talk about adding volume to the vibrancy!
6. Oak Devil by Greg Coulton
- Woodcut illustrations
- Typography combo
- Elegant bottle shape
Whiskey is the name of the game today, and we finally came to the Irish one. The Dublin Liberties Distillery has recently unveiled its new look for its award-winning range of whiskies that is sure to shine bright on the shelves.
Dublin Liberties asked Greg Coulton to “raise hell” with illustrations for their new single malts to celebrate the launch of their new purpose-built distillery. Steeped in the riotous mayhem of 17th and 18th Century Dublin, the new expressions tell tales of illicit drinking dens, monsters and blasphemers, and the murderous 40 steps to Hell.
With clearly defined “shoulders” and an elegant neck and body, the new Liberties bottles beautifully reflect the brand’s rich history while showcasing its contemporary approach to the Irish whiskey category.
Greg Coulton’s illustrations are an ideal mix of sophisticated and seedy, modern and old-school. Judging by the shining example, the Oak Devil label, they are both woodcut-inspired and evocative of the dominant dot-work tattoo technique.
7. Selected Malts by Christian Bjurinder
- Embossed typography
- Unique main typeface
- Elegant color scheme
"The first release in Selected Malts Premium Selection is a 14-year-old Glenlossie, stored for 12 months in barrels that previously contained Palo Cortado. Palo Cortado is an unusual type of sherry that is said to have the finesse of an Amontillado with the body and weight of an Oloroso."
Such a lavish spirit, infused with its own rich tradition demanded an equally refined spirit packaging. Created by Christian Bjurinder, the Selected Malts bottle is a prime example of the so-called "design equilibrium." In other words, it emanates deluxe appeal but it doesn't flaunt luxury, it is classy but without the certain formality that typically surrounds such products.
It is rather an inviting bottle, meant to be shared. The best for the best.
8. Lazy Ballerina Winery by The Adventure Agency
- Distinct bottle and label
- Warm color story
- Artistic and symbolic illustrations
The Adventure Agency knocked the ball out of the park with its packaging design for Lazy Ballerina Winery. The design embodies fun and whimsical patterns that perfectly capture the laid-back mood of the brand. The warm colors and unique typography form an aura of liveliness and energy, making the packaging stand out on the shelf.
The agency dressed the brand's Prima Spiced Rum in iconic illustrations such as the local pier, lighthouse, sunsets, and even pirates. This aesthetic is a nod to Michigan, the home of the brand. Most importantly, this design effectively communicates the brand's personality and mission. It forms a strong visual impact that solidifies its identity in many liquor packaging.
Overall, The Adventure Agency and Lazy Ballerina Winery are a match made in heaven in delivering the best packaging designs. If you're looking for a drink, have a taste of this goodness.