To brand and package an ultra-premium barrel-aged baijiu (rice spirit) and rice wine, drawing from both Eastern and Western design influences; to honour the unique product story of “rice meets oak”; and to develop a unique and compelling brand that would appeal to both Eastern and Western markets. As founder Justin Zhang explains, “Grand Talon is a renaissance of the true Chinese spirit of the artisan”.
It was our strategic recommendation to position the aged rice spirit as a ‘rice whisky’ (not a barrel-aged baijiu) to ensure it wouldn’t get lost in the miscellaneous ‘foreign spirits’ section in Western retail environments.
Next, we sought to answer some key questions—“how do we persuade consumers to try Grand Talon Whisky over more conventional whisky styles?” and “how do we overcome the hurdle of Chinese made vs European made whisky when it comes to the perception of quality?”
The answer was to respect whisky cues whilst revealing the untold story of artisan China that has long been hidden from most bars and retail shelves. Rice spirit making is an ancient craft that is around 700 years old so the story is steeped in cultural significance waiting to be uncovered.
The brand name had to appeal to both eastern and western markets with audiences from mixed cultural backgrounds. For this reason, we chose the dragon as the inspiration for the name and packaging concept. For thousands of years, the majestic dragon has been heralded across the east for its proud stance and mystical rainmaking power it brings to the rice fields. And so, Grand Talon was born.
We were inspired by the scales of the dragon to form the central concept for the bottle design. An effect that mirrors that of a crystal whisky decanter.
For the rice wine, we slightly modified the design and coated the glass in an opaque jade green colour. We purposely incorporated more traditional Chinese cues for the rice wine as market insight showed that this product would attract a predominantly ‘traditional’ Eastern audience.
To elevate the product experience and encourage gifting purchase each product is housed in a bespoke box. The whisky canister is wrapped in naturally textured card stock and features an illustrated dragon that discreetly weaves its way around into partial view.
An immersive e-commerce website experience deep dives into the unique process around making each product with a clear path to purchase. It also offers a robust platform to curate rich video and photography.
We created a cinematic brand video that takes you on a journey from the rice field through to the glass, and celebrates the Chinese artisan capturing 700 year old spirit making techniques.
We also had the pleasure of working with world class mixologists to create a range of cocktails to inspire both adventurous whisky lovers, and baijiu drinkers looking to break away from traditional serves. We created a series of ‘how to’ videos suitable for both the bar and home.
The final result is an award-winning, distinguished brand and product range that honours its 700-year-old Chinese heritage while forging a new frontier for artisanal whisky in Asia and beyond.
Silver, Dark Spirits
Design & Packaging Master Awards 2021
Master, World Whisky Category
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