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Early Times pours into PET

Following the success of its switch to PET from glass for Canadian Mist blended whisky in 1999, Brown-Forman Beverage Worldwide in November launched a 1.75-L PET bottle for its Early Times Kentucky whisky. Like Canadian Mist, the Early Times bottle is injection stretch/blow-molded by Schmalbach-Lubeca (Manchester, MI).

The 106-g flask-shaped bottle provides differentiation from the round bottles common to competitive spirits. Also lending distinction is a faceted, bulbous neck with a 38-mm finish, and a grip feature on the back of the bottle.

A pressure-sensitive front label and glue-applied back label provide decoration. So does the brand’s medallion, added to the bottle for the first time in its 141-year history. It’s positioned just above the front-panel label. “Our qualitative testing proved to us that adding the decoration to our bottle denotes a premium image, further differentiating it in the category,” notes Sal Ruriani, vice president of packaging design and development for Louisville, KY-based Brown-Forman.

Sold at retail liquor stores nationwide, the brand retails for $16.99. Since making the switch, sales have increased, which is especially impressive considering the brand’s sales had declined in recent years, and also since the product’s retail price had gone up recently. Ruriani says.

Not only has the packaging change resulted in more sales, it’s also reduced costs for Brown-Forman. First, the bottle uses the same preform as Canadian Mist. Ruriani says that saves the company $400ꯠ in preform tooling costs. Second, only change parts were needed to accommodate the bottle on the filling line. Third, PET eliminates the need for partitions previously necessary to protect glass bottles, and has allowed the use of a smaller shipping case compared to the one necessary for glass.

“We are now bulk-palletizing cases without partitions,” Ruriani explains. “Further, outgoing freight [cost] is much less, we’ve eliminated breakage on the filling line, and we save money on the [cases].” (JB)

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