As a supplement to the September Package Design cover story on Premium Tequila Bottles , we spoke with John Shaddox, president of Vitro, and Thomas Koy, director specialties, sales and marketing for OI Europe, about trends in high-end liquor bottles.
Shaddox explains that many tequila bottles are produced on an Independent Section, or IS, machine. The capacity of the machine is indicated by the set-up; for instance a "10 Section IS Double" would produce 20 bottles at a time. Shaddox says most tequila bottles in Mexico run on an eight-double or six-double.
The more difficult the bottle, or the finer the grade of glass, the less capacity of the machine it will likely run on. Cosmetic grade or super flint glass bottles might only run on a four-single, says Shaddox. Also, square bottles are not as efficiently produced, but the price points of ultra-premium tequilas today often allow for the extra production cost. Other limits include a maximum height of 13 inches, maximum of 1.5 inches in the bottom punt, and a "tip angle" limit, which often encourages thick tequila bottle bases. "You can still do some very interesting things on an IS machine," says Shaddox, even with the limitations.
Koy believes that super flint bottles will continue to be only used with the ultra-premium brands, to add perceived value to the brand. The prices of tequila went up in the last years, Koy explains, due to the lack of available extracts of the blue agave plant as well as growing interest in 100% agave tequilas in the U.S. and Europe. Therefore, more and more "special bottles" were created to "argue for" the higher price of the whole product. This has also created a demand for non-refill closure concepts to prevent refill on the black market with "fakes."
As far as labeling is concerned, Shaddox has noticed that even in higher end, paper labels are still prevalent. Koy agrees that screen printed labels are focused on new consumers in "trendy" tequila brands. The known and respected brands and bottles are still traditional with paper labels.
Koy maintains that vodka is really the "key-driver" especially for new packaging developments in high-end liquor. Most of the European new product developments in glass are already focused to a launch on the American market, says Koy. The El Mayor bottles shown here, for instance, were produced in cosmetic grade glass in France.
Shaddox believes that the tequila market has even more growth ahead, which would be greatly aided by marketing campaigns. "There's a lot of educating that needs to take place," says Shaddox. "I would challenge tequila brands to push the limits on the traditional issues they're stuck with."