Paper Tube Whiskey Pack Leaps Off the Shelf

Named for a pioneering species of Irish toad, the folks at Natterjack Irish Whiskey and Gortinore Distillers & Co. tend to do things differently.

Blending American and Irish traditions and techniques, the whiskey has a bright creamy palate with hints of cinnamon and vanilla.

While it’s true that the final product should be what keeps consumers returning, it’s the packaging that is likely to hook people in the first instance. Using a composite paper tube to house the bottle seemed to Natterjack brass to be a good way to grab attention.

Why was Natterjack set on paper tube packaging in the first place? As a new brand, it needed to position itself as a luxurious product and premium drinks packaging is one way to do so. “Premium-ization” has been gaining favor in the drinks industry for the last decade, and what better way for Natterjack to stand out than with packaging that visually disrupts? Displaying a product in gift packaging boosts brand awareness, and when placed alongside other premium-drinks packaging, the curves of a paper tube hint at indulgence and class, a little different than the standard fare.

Aidan Mehigan, one of the co-founders of Gortinore Distillers & Co., and Stephanie Dooley, Design Manager at design agency Slater Design, met with Smurfit Kappa Composites to explore packaging options. In line with the founder’s and designer’s vision—a memorable product in premium drinks packaging—Smurfit Kappa Composites suggested a tasteful, silk-like white paper as the substrate for the composite tube in which the whiskey bottle is packed.

Allowing its namesake natterjack toad to stand out in contrasting black against the simple white background of the tube was striking. But Smurfit Kappa Composites wanted to push further. Premium drinks packaging is a competitive market, and seemingly small details can make a brand stand out.

During the first meeting with Smurfit Kappa Composites, Mehigan had been particularly interested in the supplier’s ability to emboss or deboss a design onto the lids. Over the course of the consultations, this idea evolved pressing into the lid the unpretentious, striking phrase, “OF IRELAND.” This addition allowed Gortinore Distillers & Co. to easily promote its heritage at a glance. A little copper foiling, referencing the traditional copper pot stills used in distilling, added the finishing touches and an eye-catching elegance, according to the company.

The range of Natterjack’s market across the UK and Canada meant that the tubes had to be durable enough to survive long shipping routes and protect the whiskey inside. Smurfit Kappa Composites’ tubes reduce potential breakage and damage to bottles. Also, they’re fully Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited, important since consumers are prioritizing sustainability and the environment in their purchases. Paper tubes mean a reduction in plastic packaging, appeal to those keen to do their part, and showcase the brand’s environmental awareness.

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