There is beauty in nature and another in art. There is still another kind of beauty where art, utility, function, and engineering come into play. That is where creative and artful bourbon bottle design solutions are born.
My Love of Art, Design, and American Whiskey
I have wanted to write an article about the best bourbon and American whiskey bottle designs for the past few years. Bottle designs may seem like an unusual subject to write about, but because of my love of whiskey, it was only natural that love would eventually collide with my first love; art and design.
I graduated as a Fine Art major from the University of Florida with a minor in art history and marketing. Art and design have always been an integral part of my life, so much so that my wife and I make it a point during our travels to visit some of the world's most renowned art museums. We've been privileged to visit The Museo del Prado in Madrid, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, The Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the Musée d'Orsay and Louvre in Paris, The Uffizi in Florence, and The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia to name a few art museums. It was only a matter of time before the two worlds eventually collided once I cultivated this love of American whiskeys.
The Design Criteria
The Bottle Design
The first question one might ask is, "How do you determine a good bottle design?" First, we have to understand that art and design are always subjective. Our leanings are always a product of personal tastes, experiences, and partialities. However, there are a few physical characteristics I start with.
The first consideration is the aesthetics of the bottle. What does the container that houses this beautiful whiskey look like? Is the bottle design distinctive and stylish but not garish? How does the bottle fit into a traditional liquor cabinet? Do the tasteful designs jump off the shelves amidst all the other visual whiskey traffic?
Incorporating Labeling and Branding
In addition to the bottle design, I consider how the label and branding are incorporated into the bottle design. Do these design elements work well with the shape of the bottle? If the bottle accommodates different whiskey brands, does it adapt well to branding changes? For instance, does the label adapt to various color schemes that may be needed for different products?
These are just a few things that influence my rankings. Also, keep in mind that I am not including one-off bottle designs that may be great (See Frank August and certain World Whiskey Society bottles). These bottles need to thematically accomodate various whiskeys within a brand.
Best Bourbon Whiskey Bottle Designs
7. Bardstown Bourbon Company
Clean, distinctive, stately, and quickly identifiable, Bardstown Bourbon Company has created a bottle design that is the pinnacle of simplistic elegance in many ways. It is rare for a seemingly simple design to jump off the shelves visually. This low-profile design is a dream for liquor cabinet organization. The softly sculpted and rounded edges, solid color wrap-around label background, and white text are perfection. Also, their bottle designs easily accommodate different color schemes that match their individual whiskeys.
6. Lucky Seven Spirits
The distinctively shaped Lucky Seven Spirits' bottle design and wonderfully integrated Harlequin Lucky Seven design treatments initially attracted me to this company I knew little about. This bottle is exquisite, from the high gloss black Beechwood bottle cap stopper to the distinctive decanter-like bottle design and the unique "Admit One" ticket label.
5. Barrell Craft Spirits
As we know, Barrell Craft Spirits has been prolific in producing different whiskey finishes and types. Despite having numerous products, their silky smooth, unembellished, and curved bulb-like bottle design with flexible color schemes accommodate all of them. Additionally, the Barrell Craft Spirit bottles draw your eye to them more than any other bottle design on the market, except for the somewhat gaudy Willet Pot Still. Barrell Craft Spirits has designed a bottle with a low profile depth and a wide width. This design allows you to stack many bottles depth-wise while pushing the boundaries of acceptable bottle width for liquor cabinet organization. Additionally, their label's three-color scheme allows for multiple branding combinations...and they need it.
4. Smoke Wagon - Nevada Distilling Company
The Smoke Wagon raised-image of the Nevada state flower desert sage is a sculpted work of art. The imprinted medallion coin is the perfect focal point of this sculpture. Interestingly, the Nevada H&C Distilling Company design works well with various bottle colors, although I like the dark amber treatment with the gold medallion the best. However, the clear bottle with the silver dollar medallion is not one to be trifled with.
3. Filmland Spirits
As of this writing, Filmland Spirits has come out with five different bottle designs for five different whiskeys, and they are all super cool. While the bottle itself is unique, what captures your attention are the outlandish and over-the-top B-movie poster-like labels and their original characters and stories. Their original movie concept labels are our favorite.
2. Blue Run Craft Spirits
Blue Run Craft Spirits burst onto the scene with some of the most tasteful and elegant bottles we've seen. Their treatment of the butterfly medallion and the tapered weighted bottom of the decanter is magnificent. The perfect width of the base charmingly tapers up slightly to a mildly wide top. Frankly, this could be the number one bottle on the list probably should be.
1. Blanton's – Buffalo Trace Distillery
Blanton's is the height of artistic bottle design, incorporating splendid typography and a unique antique bottle design while maintaining a low-profile footprint. Blanton's is a bottle design for artists, so I may be showing my prejudices here. Has a more uniquely shaped bottle ever been designed in the American whiskey world? However, Blanton's sculpted spherical bottle is only part of the equation. The script text treatments combined with a hand-written script for certain label elements like dates are matchless. Combine this with rustic fiber pulp paper for the label, and you have true artists salivating. Of course, we have to give Buffalo Trace Distillery extra cudos for their brilliant marketing related to the eight distinct horse and jockey stoppers that are all collectible.
A couple more bottle designs should be mentioned, but they do not make our top list yet.
Well, there you have it, the best bourbon or American whiskey bottle designs ranked. Do you agree? Are we missing a bottle? If so, let us know your thoughts by commenting on the article.