Kotkamills Develops New Board Grade for Spirits Packaging

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN | 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 in London. The victory was a good birthday present for the company that turned 165 years just after the competition.

The very heavy bottle of Gustav Dill vodka is packed in a light and very strong box made from 800 mic 450 gsm folding boxboard by Kotkamills.© Kotkamills

A true winner needs luxurious packaging, starting from the bottle. 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,” CEO 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,” 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 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,” 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 grade, incarnated in the package of Gustav Dill vodka, was presented at Luxury Packaging in London in September and Luxe Pack in Monaco in October. 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.

“The main thing about the product is, however, that we learned that our new board machine was even more versatile than we thought it could be,” Aho says. “Aegle White 800 mic 450 gsm is most likely the strongest and lightest Scandinavian folding boxboard on the market.”

And what is the customer’s judgement? “I think that both the bottle and the box are great looking and support each other seamlessly,” Nylund says. “This product is a joy to sell all over the world.”


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