When the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa in Newmarket, Suffolk, U.K., approached Nude Brand Creation about developing the brand strategy, name, and packaging design for a new house-brand gin, it gave the designer unbridled freedom with the creative brief. While Bedford was looking to create a gin solely for the hotel bar, calling it The Bedford Lodge Gin, it changed course when Nude pointed out the potential for broader consumer appeal by tying the brand to the nearby Newmarket Racecourse—often referred to as the headquarters of British horseracing.
“That’s when The Newmarket Gin came about,” says Bernard Gormley, Nude Brand Creation Founding Partner. “The client, the distiller, and Nude all understood that provenance was key to the product and worked in harmony to ensure it led everything we did.”
From tip to tail, the package design celebrates the history of horseracing at Newmarket, taking inspiration both from the racecourse as well as from 19th century English photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering work in the study of the running horse. The 700-mL glass bottle is a stock shape, the Neos, from Saverglass that was chosen for its distinctive shape, its gin cues, and its elegant simplicity, along with its ability to act as a canvas for the decoration. The entire bottle is frosted by Dekorglass, except for binocular-shaped areas on the front and back. Says Gormley, “The visual and tactile contrast between the frosting and the smooth glass binoculars is really striking.”
On the back of the bottle, Dekorglass screen-prints an illustration of running horses, the most prominent of which is a recent winner of the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Explains Gormley, “We considered several options in how to feature the horses on the back of the bottle. We wanted the illustration to be the best quality possible, and to have minimal show-through of the back-of-pack graphics. The horses are printed in high-definition screening on the back, a white background is then printed over the top, followed by the back ‘label’ graphics. It took several rounds of trialing to achieve.”
When the illustration is viewed from the front of the bottle, through the clear binocular-shaped opening, light refracting through the clear liquid provides a sense of movement, bringing the images to life.
Continuing the racing theme, a paper label at the base of the bottle bears the signature of the Master Distiller, John Walters, along with information about the crafting of the spirit, displayed in a way that is reminiscent of old horse-race betting slips. Topping the bottle is a real wooden stopper.
Along with the running horse illustration, the pièce de résistance of the bottle is a collar handmade in Newmarket by Gibson’s saddlers, a family-owned company founded in the early 1900s that supplies racing saddles to Her Majesty Queen. “The shade of leather on the leather collar is the historic Newmarket Tan, once used by traders to determine the destination of carriages during its days as a major market town,” says Gormley. “The stitch detailing and metal button echo the craft of leather riding equipment, and the ribbon tag is in the Newmarket stripe used for equine blankets.” The collar is applied to the bottle manually, using a snap button to secure.
The house-brand gin was launched in September 2016, commemorating Newmarket’s 350th anniversary as the headquarters of British horseracing. The Newmarket Gin is sold at the Bedford Lodge Hotel Bar, with the hotel receiving feedback—which has been “incredibly positive,” says Gormley—on the spirit and its packaging directly from consumers. “The packaging is distinctive and intriguing, each element has been carefully chosen to tell the strong product story and strengthen provenance, which consumers really appreciate,” Gormley says.
The response from the design industry has been positive as well, with the package picking up several awards, including first place in the Spirits category from The Dieline Awards.