The Grapevine

The WSTA's views, distilled.

The Spirits Summit, Unwrapped


As if we weren’t cold enough in London as it is, WSTA decided to head north once again to the Packaging News Spirits Summit in Edinburgh.

 In its inaugural year, the event was showcased in the beautiful Assembly Rooms on George Street, where chandeliers hung from the ceiling above boxes, bags, glass, cases and corks – a packaging-enthusiasts paradise if you will.

 The room buzzed with chatter as delegates made their way around the stalls to explore some of the industry’s cutting edge creations. The packaging industry could easily be mistaken for dull, but packing businesses from across the world were proving how this was clearly not the case (excuse the pun!).

From innovation managers to materials suppliers – this was the meeting place for the industry’s front runners. We took advantage of the excellent opportunity to talk to businesses who produce the packaging used by many of our spirits company members, especially at the luxury end of their ranges.        



 Proceedings soon got underway as we were invited into the conference hall to hear speakers from global brands tackling topical issues. Diageo’s Kerrin Lumsden walked us through ‘seven steps to great packaging design.’ He argued that great design is at the core of building great brands, and as competition becomes more fierce, major brand owners are changing the way they brief their agencies to ensure they get it. As Design Leader, Kerrin shed light on how Diageo are transforming their own approach to creating engaging, impactful and beautiful spirits packaging.


Continuing on the theme of changing times, the room listened intently to a presentation on ‘uncovering the spirit of a new generation.’ This exposed the radically different paradigms of behaviour that the industry is seeing as the latest generation of drinkers reach maturity. For example, a drop in consumption, the wide spread desire for premiumisation and a thirst for immersive experiences. This presentation was given by Webb deVlam, design agency behind whisky heavyweight, Grants.

Moving away from outer packaging, the Scotch Whisky Association’s Head of Sustainability and Innovation presented their environmental strategy for the sector before the WSTA’s very own Regulatory and Commercial Affairs Director, David Richardson, took the stage. Under the title of “Great packaging – but is it legal?”

David discussed how  an innovative product and great packaging aren’t enough – labelling must be compliant. A central point was that compliant labelling is good for business as it avoids border delays and arguments with trading standards and customers. He helpfully also discussed what changes to bottling, labelling requirements and market tariffs could arise in the future as a result of Brexit.


To round off an excellent and informative day, a cocktail networking session allowed delegates to exchange business cards and pinpoint partners to help them outline how to strike that perfect balance between delivering commerce and an emotional connection on the bottle.

WSTA will be sure to be back at next year’s event. If you would like to be involved then please do not hesitate to get in touch with David.


The video from the day can be viewed here

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