It was a great moment for the Finnish family distillery Lignell & Piispanen, when the company’s new Gustav Dill vodka was at the top podium in the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) in London.
The victory was a good birthday present for the company that turned 165 years just after the competition.
“I knew we had an outstanding product at hand, but this was an overwhelming result that already has paid off in the form of rising sales”, says Harri Nylund, CEO of the 165-year-old family company Lignell & Piispanen. “Gustav Dill vodka was also designed as a Finland 100 centenary product, so this was a win for Finland as well.”
It may not be the first time a vodka is flavoured with dill, but it’s hard to think that anybody has put as much effort on product development of a similar product.
“We haven’t used any magical tricks; we tried literally hundreds of combinations of dill until we found this ultimate blend of fresh and dried dill and seeds”, Harri Nylund says. “Secondly, we have our own aroma distillation technology that really can squeeze out the flavours of the dill.”
A true winner needs luxurious packaging, starting from the bottle. Renowned Finnish designer Jaani Vaahtera was hired to design the bottle so that it would reflect the pure essence of the vodka. The design itself had no impact on the results in the competition, as the judges test the drinks without seeing the bottle or packaging.
“The bottle was wonderful, but we really hadn’t thought so much about the packaging”, Harri Nylund says. “The only thing we knew was that we wanted a gift package that had to be good looking, strong and protective, not only against wear and impact, but also against counterfeit and backdoor manufacturing.”
The solution was to ask Starcke, a Finnish company specialized in post-processing and brand protection, to create a bold and intelligent package for the product. It was the first time the two companies had worked together and the result was – a winner.
At Starcke it was Ilkka Harju, Head of Design & Innovation, who handled the process from start to end. As the design bottle was very heavy, the box needed strength and extremely good printability, a combination he knew would be undoable with the folding boxboard qualities normally used in such solutions.
“The look and feel of the packaging is of course the most important thing for our customers, but without a strong board of high-quality it’s impossible to make beautiful packages, especially when you need to use for example hot foil stamping and embossing”, Ilkka Harju says. “That’s why we turned to Kotkamills, who had a new board machine with specs that we knew could be stretched in many directions.”
The result was a strong 450 gsm folding boxboard with a thickness of 800 microns. According to Ilkka Harju, it could be described as light heavyweight, as it protects the bottle very well but weighs less and has much better overall performance than light corrugated cardboard that was the other alternative.
“The whole process to develop the new board quality took just a couple of weeks, which indeed is very lean. I’ve seen cases where it has taken up to one year”, Ilkka Harju says. “We were impressed about the ease and quality of both printing, special treatment and converting. It had none of the obstacles that usually occur with thick folding boxboard, like cracking and dust.”
The new board Aegle White 800 mic 450 gsm is not yet available in regular production, but according to Yrjö Aho, director, New Business Development at Kotkamills, it can be seen as a concept board, the same way as concept cars are displayed at car shows.
International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) was founded in 1969 and is the biggest competition of its kind. In July 2017, products from almost 90 countries entered the competition, where over 400 judges evaluated the products blindfolded. Gustav Dill vodka was awarded the world’s best vodka & tonic and received a gold medal in the flavoured vodka category
Kotkamills Oy in brief
Kotkamills is a responsible partner that delivers renewable products and performance to its customers’ processes via product innovations created from wood, a renewable raw material.
In summer 2016, the company started up a new board machine producing AEGLE™ Folding Boxboard and ISLA™ Food Service Boards, including the capability to add easily recyclable barriers on-machine.
Kotkamills has two production sites in Finland, located in Kotka and Imatra. The majority shareholder of Kotkamills is MB Funds, a Finnish private equity firm.