The New Bruichladdich Bottle Backstory

  • 1 min

After three years in development, our new Bruichladdich Classic Laddie bottle is now heading from Islay to shop shelves around the world. Our most progressive packaging to date. The new design reduces The Classic Laddie’s packaging CO2 emissions by 65% through eliminating its traditional secondary tin and introducing a much lighter glass with more recycled content.

We’ve been talking to some of the people in our team who’ve had a hand in the new bottle’s development. Below we hear more about what’s driven the change, and the nitty gritty detail of the design.


The move away from secondary packaging is a big one for the whisky industry,” says Rona Anderson, our Product Design Project Manager. She and the rest of our in-house packaging team are responsible for thinking it all through and liaising with suppliers.

Bruichladdich Distillery is committed to using less, not just finding alternatives, so after previously making tins optional, the aim with this change has been to completely eliminate the need for them. The large type “Bruichladdich” and story-telling details have been moved off the tin onto the bottle instead. We’re using less glass – the new Bruichladdich bottle has a smaller, reduced footprint - which means we require less cardboard to ship it in. The bottle’s short neck, powerful proportions and the stand-out aqua colour are some of the design cues we’ve retained. And there are new features that only make sense on a bottle going naked, for example, we’ve introduced a “beautiful new deboss detail around the bottom and the neck”.

“There’s a lot of technical factors that go into realising this idea of what we would like it to look like, to actually creating something that’s produceable, shippable, and successful - right through the customer journey into their hands, pouring and using and enjoying it,” says Rona.

“Most of what has been asked for we’ve managed to make a reality, and make a reality within the bounds of the sustainability targets we had set for the project,” she continues. “So, looking at 100% recycled papers wherever we can, using organic ink for the iconic aqua bottle coating. The new stopper is made from bio-based polypropylene - rather than being made from 100% petroleum sources; it’s made from other waste sources essentially, food oils or forestry oils. It’s about looking at all the materials we’re using and just trying to make the best choices.”

People often focus on recycled glass content says Rona, which in this new bottle design, has risen to around 60% (from around 15% in our previous Classic Laddie bottle), through a combination of reused glass within the glass factory and post-consumer recycled. She describes this as “a big step, but not the whole picture.”

“One of the main goals of the project was to create a lighter bottle, which we have successfully done. It brings CO2 emissions savings both in the production, because you’re using less material, but also you’re reducing the weights that are shipping on and off the island and then onwards. All of this has positive effects on the whole supply chain.”


Since 2002, when we started building The Harvey Hall on Islay, we made a commitment to bottle all our whisky at source. It means we keep jobs in the local community and we can always use Islay spring water to reach our desired bottling strengths.

Jonathan Carmichael, our Bottling Hall Manager, has been there from the start, even using his previous experience in the building trade to help convert the dilapidated warehouse which is shaped “almost like a Nissen hut” into the location of today’s busy bottling line.

Producing our three brands of whisky at different peating levels under one roof means our bottling operations have to be agile at the best of times. With the new Bruichladdich bottle, printing and labelling were a challenge. “We have a laser coding machine,” explains Jonathan, “which we use for traceability. Because of the new shape, it’s a very small target area that we have to get this in, so Douglas Clyne, our Head Engineer spent many an hour trying to set the machine to get that right! It’s not as straight-forward as you might think; it’s quite a laborious task trying to get all these settings correct.”

We started “line trials” of The Classic Laddie bottle last year, in 2022. Jonathan describes the standard process for introducing a new size or a new bottle, as we also did in 2018 with Port Charlotte. “Going back to the early stage, we send the drawings to the machine manufacturers so that they can design the change parts, to get it through each machine on the line. Even 5ml of a difference between one bottle and another requires different change parts,” says Jonathan.

Our machinery is all Italian these days (a far cry from the second-hand, fully manual equipment we began with, which Jonathan sums up as “ancient”). With recent supply chain and global component issues, the lead time for these “change parts” has doubled compared to five years ago, to about six months, “so we have to factor in the time constraints as well for new product development. We have to look at things well in advance because of labels, different label types and so forth, and test the machines to see what their capacities are.”

Has the new light-weighted glass caused us any headaches? Jonathan says it’s run through well – the balance has been considered in the design – and they have seen particular benefits in the areas which are still manual, such as loading up the glass at the start and lifting off the full bottles at the end. “It has made the line a lot easier and more efficient, not having the tins… There’s been a lot of gains. Obviously with a lighter bottle you can get more on a pallet. There’s less weight on a pallet, so we’ve been able to adapt our pallet configurations, if you like.” The new, slender footprint, is what has enabled us to fit 19% more bottles on every pallet coming into the distillery, and 60% more bottles on every pallet leaving the distillery. Good news for cutting the CO2 emissions from shipping.

For the bottling hall, the flip side of packaging is waste, and Jonathan sees how our sustainability strategy has brought about real practical change, from the bottom up. “I think we have made strides in the last couple of years, specifically in the materials we use. Almost everything that we handle can be recycled. I don’t know of anything else we could do at the moment that we could better on, if I’m honest... All the operators are consciously thinking of these things, and it’s them that approach us to say, can this be recycled? The guys are taking an interest and a pride in that; they’re looking after their own asset here – Islay. I think Bruichladdich is in a far better place than we were 10 or 15 years ago in that respect.”


If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll probably know how being progressive runs deeply through our history and our DNA. We see whisky as a vehicle for positive change, and are proud to be a B Corp, whose mission is it to use business as a force for good. We’re not afraid to challenge ourselves, or the industry as we learn and grow. Our Global Marketing Manager, Lynne McEwan thinks it’s a question of redefining our expectations of what whisky should look like.

“As a luxury product, the expectation for a long time has been that whisky should be in heavy decanters, with flawless glass and elaborate packaging. But knowing what we know today, this convention has to change. We need to take ownership of our impact if we are to be part of a sustainable future. For us luxury starts in the way we make our spirits – it’s the investment into the land and the farmers we partner with, the slow distillation through our narrow necked stills, the casks maturing in our warehouses on Islay and being bottled here by the community. Therefore when it came to redesigning our iconic bottle it was about putting all of this consideration into the design to reduce the impact on the island and well beyond and then making sure it had attitude. That is the Bruichladdich way.”

Every single aspect of the new Classic Laddie bottle has been considered and designed with sustainability in mind, because, for Lynne, “function and beauty cannot exist apart therefore we wanted to make sure it was as minimal as possible but also look super cool.”

We know there are people out there who want to enjoy incredible spirits but also want those spirits to have values, a real story and to look good on their shelves. And that’s the cool thing about Bruichladdich, because you can drink and enjoy The Classic Laddie as a lovely spirit in a great bottle, or you can dig a bit deeper and learn so much more”


So, in terms of the sustainable whisky choices that you can make, is The Classic Laddie moving up the rankings? Our status as a B Corp company is now well-established, and our sustainability efforts besides packaging embrace the agricultural, energy, and community aspects of making whisky. Although gratifying, most of this work is not about the quick wins; it’s full of negotiations, scrutiny, and aims into a long future - that’s the very definition of sustainability. Our new Bruichladdich bottle is the next step on our journey and a marker of real progress, drop by drop.