Retro trend sweeps wine and spirits world

Wine and spirits brands are dipping back into their archives to communicate their history and heritage on their labels in response to a recession-led consumer desire for authenticity.

Plymouth Gin retro redesign

Kevin Shaw, owner of design agency Stranger & Stranger, has seen a surge in demand for retro bottles and labels from clients including Jack Daniel’s, set to release its first redesign in a decade next week.

“Retro says authenticity and harks back to a time when things were made with care by hand,” said Shaw, whose retro design for The Kraken Black Spiced Rum has been hugely well received.

Housed in a Victorian flagon-style rum bottle with glass loop handles, the label features a monstrous squid swimming up the side.

“Kraken is killing it. They have an online store where you can buy Kraken shower curtains, wallpaper, lamps, even Eau de Kraken perfume – I’m sure it’s all down to the old school charm of the brand,” Shaw told db.

Sherry brand González Byass started the retro trend two years ago, when it delved back into its archives to re-release the first ever Tio Pepe label on its limited edition Tio Pepe Fino En Rama line.

This year’s En Rama, due to go on sale later this month, features a vintage Sherry label from 1857. The company continued the retro theme with its Palmas range of aged finos, released late last year.

“We went for retro labels because both En Rama and Palmas were resurrections of products that featured on our price lists in the 1800s,” González Byass marketing manager Jeremy Rockett told db.

He says the labels have been so well received they have almost “become the message” of the wines.

Capitalising on the retro trend, Plymouth Gin has had a historical revamp, ditching its Art Deco skyscraper bottle in January in favour of an embossed flint glass bottle modelled on its original 18th century shape created by design agency Design Bridge.

“The previous bottle failed to communicate the brand’s heritage, which is a major part of its DNA. We needed to bring the heritage back to the packaging,” Paco Recuerdo, international brand director at Plymouth owners Chivas Brothers told db.

Legendary filmmaker-turned-winemaker Francis Ford Coppola has also borrowed from the past with his 3-litre “Carmine” wine jug.

Named after his father and featuring sheet music written by him on the label, the jug is inspired by those stocked in Carmine’s cellar where Coppola would play as a child.

For more on the current trend for retro designs in wine and spirits packaging, see the May issue of the drinks business, out next week.

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