Closing arguments

30 August, 2016

Stelvin introduced its range of liners offering different OTRs for still wine a year or two before Guala. Quirchove says: “We continue to focus on Stelvin Inside [the name of the range]. It’s a slow burn, changing people’s liners because they want to run tests” to see how the different oxygen permeabilities affect the bottle maturation of their wines.

But for spirits the technical and trend issues are completely different. The liner, so critical to wine objectives, is not even a point of idle conversation. With spirits’ high alcohol content, says Seznec: “The liner is not a topic of interest to spirits.” And screwcaps account for more than three-quarters of the about 40 billion unit spirits market.”


Where spirits lead is in personalisation and branding. Quirchove says: “We see a customisation through innovative packaging – shape, touch, colour – required by premium brands to differentiate from the highly competitive commodity market.” Seznec agrees, saying: “Spirits is more about branding, about customising. The trend in spirits is to use nice design agencies. For the past five years there has been keen attention to luxury designs and we have a range of luxury closures.”

Seznec explains: “It was a tiny segment in the past, now it’s becoming really important. You can have weighted polymer to look and feel expensive. Engraving and embossing with brand logo. For example, the Tanqueray No Ten closure last year had fine and detailed engraving on the closure. Ten years ago it was not technically possible to do this.” Emphasising this move to premium, for the past couple of years Guala has attended the Luxe Pack ‘creative packaging’ show, which has previously been the domain of cosmetics and perfume.

Seznec continues: “Our screwcaps are always branded in spirits. You cannot do a standard black plain closure like you might have in wine” because it’s not different enough. Of course all this adds costs. Depending on how specialised and elaborate, these luxury screwcaps could be 10 or even 20 times more expensive than the straight standard screwcap.

Elsewhere, glass stopper Vinolok has been expanding its portfolio since Czech glassware company Preciosa took over the company. The appeal of the stopper has broadened dramatically since it no longer requires a bespoke bottle.

Customisation is the name of the game here too, with printing and logos. And not just for wine. Spirits, water, vinegar and olive oils are also beginning to use this elegant, smoothly tactile glass stopper. Vinolok is offered in many different colours of glass and colours of plastic ring that does the sealing bit on the bottle.

Premium gin producer Ian McCulloch, the founder of Silent Pool Distillers, was persuaded by Vinolok’s qualities for his Silent Pool gin, saying: “It’s about quality cues, tactile feedback when you pick up a bottle. [The bottle] needed to be heavy, clear, sharp high-quality glass so it looks like a quality piece of packaging. We discovered we could get a glass stopper. It’s got a fantastic weight to it, people like holding it. It’s smooth, heavy, distinct, different. It’s got the same profile as the neck of the bottle and now it’s colour-matched to the bottle, a teal-greeny-blue. We like the fact the whole thing looks like it’s glass,” says McCulloch.

Glass is ‘natural’ too. And Vinolok’s new product this year is the Woody – a mix of “natural components with glass to meet the trend for natural materials” in packaging, says a spokesperson. And following the trend to take a luxury route to market, this stopper is being launched at Luxe Pack Monaco in September.

The eyes have it, it seems.

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