Griffon Vault Vodka rocks the box

New spirits company looks inside the box to create a new experience for consumers: a premium vodka in a portable, bag-on-box format that can easily be refrigerated.

The first in the U.S. to put a premium spirit in a bag-in-box format, Griffon Brands LLC of Milwaukee says, “it’s time to move on from glass bottles and see why the box rocks.” Griffon introduced its five-times distilled premium Griffon Vault Vodka in a 1-L bag-in-box package in spring 2015, using film and paperboard materials engineered to ensure the integrity of the product and the aesthetics of the package.

Shares Griffon co-founder Eric Clappier, in developing the brand, the goal of he and his partner Bill Hersch was to deliver a new experience for the consumer, driven by a high-quality spirit in an eye-catching package that was intuitive to use. “I believe we have achieved our goal in that the product itself is a conversation starter,” he says. “Once consumers and their friends realize there is an entire liter of vodka in such a compact package, they really start to understand the environmental advantages, and they love the convenience of having vodka on tap in their home.

“To differentiate ourselves from the crowded vodka space, we really wanted our package to pop off the shelf, easily fit in a standard refrigerator, and retail at an attractive price point.”

As Clappier explains, one of the challenges of packaging spirits—especially vodka—in a bag is that they can easily take on the flavors of the materials they come in contact with. “Without the use of high-barrier films, spirits can develop undesirable tasting hints of plastic and even the paperboard box,” he says.

For the Griffon application, BIB supplier Scholle IPN engineered a proprietary two-play bag construction made from an inner film layer that prevents flavor scalping and an outer ply of its DuraShield™ high-barrier film that provides a barrier to oxygen and adds strength to the package.

Great Northern Corp. produces the box, using its StrataGraph® process, which allows for the in-line converting of high-strength, laminated paperboard packaging with high-impact, web-offset graphics. The box is made from a laminated solid fiber material, consisting of a 14-pt SBS top sheet and a 0.030 kraft base sheet.

Chad Sedo, Design Manager at Great Northern, explains the reasons behind the substrate selection: “Although carton was small, it contained a good amount of liquid weight and needed a substrate that would have proper compression strength to withstand the rigors of the supply chain. Liquids also tend to have horizontal or outward force, causing the package to bow.It was very important to the customer that the package did not bow, so the sidewall strength was also important.Lastly, the carton needed to hold up sufficiently in refrigerator and/or freezer environments without degrading, which our laminate substrate is designed to do.”

Visually, the Griffon box is a stunner, with an embossed image of its namesake—a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle—in metallic ink on the front panel. Also embossed, using a specially-developed multi-level embossing tool, is the Griffon logo, in a deep, metallic red. The box is printed in four-color process plus one PMS color on a six-color offset press using UV inks and coating. “The use of opaque white ink in certain areas of the graphics, which was laid down behind the main color, let the color of the ink stand out where it needed and also let the sheen of the metallized polyester show through where the opaque was not used,” says Sedo. “The carton also used a specialty high-gloss UV coating to give the carton a glossy, elegant finish.”

Scholle supplies the bag’s FlexTap™ push-button gravity dispensing spout. The box is designed with a tear-open feature around the tap so the consumer can tear the area away easily and cleanly if they wish to remove the bag with tap for storage elsewhere or for recycling of the package components.

Recyclability of the packaging materials is just one of the sustainability features Griffon Brands promotes around its BIB package. The company also advises consumers on its website that the weight of the packaging components is about half that of a traditional glass bottle, resulting in 79% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and it uses 91% fewer packaging materials. The materials also take up 85% less space in landfill than a glass bottle, if they are not recycled.

The in-line StrataGraph process also yields sustainability advantages. “The StrataGraph process is web-fed, which uses less energy, less VOC emissions, and less manufacturing steps to create a package when compared to the conventional sheet-fed process,” says Sedo. “Also, with our engineered substrate, we can achieve the required strength needed for the package to withstand the wear of the supply chain, while fitting more cartons per pallet, more cartons per truck, and more cartons per square footage in the warehouse. This all saves energy and costs when compared to a corrugated structure with equal strength.”

Griffon Vault Vodka is available in stores in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and soon in Florida, for a suggested retail price of $14.99 to $15.99 per box.

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