Amazingly, Glencairn Crystal had never worked with an Irish whiskey brand to develop decanters until our recent project with new craft distillery Teeling. Teeling Whiskey is the first new distillery to open in Dublin in living memory, although the family have been involved with the Irish whiskey industry for generations.
One of the main business problems facing all new distilleries is the length of time between first distilling a new whiskey and being able to bottle and put it on the market. It should take well over a decade before a new distillery can bottle a genuine premium product, however with remarkable foresight, Teeling had a solution to this. Having purchased a selected number of Irish whiskey casks previously, Teeling were able to bottle a 21 year old, a 26 year old and a very special 30 year old single malt under the Teeling label. These premium expressions are called Silver Reserve, Gold Reserve and Platinum Reserve.
When Teeling and Glencairn first came into contact with each other, it was clear we had a lot in common. Both are family businesses that specialise in a particular part of the drinks industry. It was this specialisation that attracted Teeling to Glencairn. Glencairn were able to offer a full project management service for the bottle that allowed Teeling to concentrate on what they do best.
Glencairn worked closely with Teeling on the initial designs. As these were the first premium expressions released by Teeling, there was not real previous work to follow. For designers this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Projects differ – sometimes a client is very prescriptive regarding design, but teeling were very open to our ideas and quickly a style, look and feel emerged.
Each of the expressions used the same bottle shape and style. This made sense, allowing the consumer and trade to identify the products as related and also for economic reasons regarding the actual bottling and labelling processes. Cost is always a consideration no matter how premium the final product will be. The differences on the packaging are centred on the stopper, neck collar and label.
The 21 year old used a bespoke silver transfer label whereas the 26 and 30 year olds were engraved and given liquid silver and gold infills. The stoppers on the 26 and 30 year olds are also silver. The Platinum Reserve also has a metal-worked collar.
One of the challenges on this project was the use of liquid silver. The printing industry has always struggled to create metallic finishes and we use genuine silver as we find it is the only way to achieve the finish we demand. From a technical standpoint, this is difficult. For example this means the firing process must be done in a highly controlled manner as extra heat is required for precious metal. This extra heat can damage the bottles, so we’ve developed a process that allows us to apply precious metals without cracking the glass. This has taken years to perfect, but it’s knowledge that’s vital for projects such as this.
The other challenge was timescale. The whole project took under four months to complete. This included original designs, the sourcing of bottles, labels, cork, stoppers and metal-work and the application of each. We’d also never worked with Teeling before so both parties were learning how the other operated for the first time.
Both Teeling and ourselves were delighted with the finished bottles. The 21 year old Silver Reserve was limited to 5,000 bottles, the 26 year old Gold Reserve to 1,000 and the Platinum Reserve 30 year old to 250. Hopefully these will help fund the next generation of Teeling whiskey and herald a new chapter for craft distilling in Dublin.