Canadian Packaging

Black glass the real McCoy for launch of new prohibition-style Scotch

By Canadian Packaging Staff   

Design & Innovation Bottling Black Grouse Alpha Edition Cutty Sark Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Cutty Sark Storm Cutty Sark Whisky Edrington Group Mountain Creative O-I Owens-Illinois Scotch Whisky The Real McCoy Whisky

Providing a taste of prohibition, Owens-Illinois provides a cool black look for premium blended Cutty Sark Scotch bottle.

Released 90 years after the end of the era which it celebrates, Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition has been crafted as a salute to the notorious Captain William McCoy, who smuggled Cutty Sark blended Scotch whisky into America during the Prohibition era of the 1920s.

It was Captain McCoy’s impeccable reputation for fairness and dealing only in the finest, genuine and unadulterated liquor that gave rise to Cutty Sark being referred to as “The Real McCoy“.

The newly released Prohibition Edition is bottled at 50% ABV (100 Proof – USA Measure), whilst the regular Cutty Sark blend is 40% ABV.

The Prohibition Edition is a “small batch” blend of the finest single malts and top-quality grain whiskies.  Hand-selected American oak casks give subtle signature flavors of vanilla and citrus fruits, providing a smooth and complex finish.


The bottle, featuring black glass and cork seal, is a nod to the traditions of the era.

Edrington Group of the UK—who acquired Cutty Sark in April 2010 from Berry Bros. & Rudd—chose a black glass bottle from O-I (Owens-Illinois) for the Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition, the first premium edition blended Scotch from the brand for the US market.

Paul McLavin, marketing manager North-West Europe for O-I, says: “Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition marks the next exciting phase of our new product development partnership with the Edrington Group. From a starting point of the main range redesign, we have produced new bottles for Cutty Sark Storm and now this for Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition. As we continue to invest in creating more premium and sustainable options for our spirits customers, Edrington uses these facilities and our expertise to produce highly desirable packaging for the added value lines in its ranges.”

Jason Craig, brand director for Cutty Sark, adds: “We spotted an opportunity for expansion through the US on-trade, where whisky chasers were becoming popular again thanks to TV programmes like ‘Mad Men’. We therefore set about designing a premium edition Scotch whisky to fit this niche. We wanted it to be even smoother than Cutty Sark Blend and have a higher than normal alcohol content – 100% proof rather than the 80% proof of our major competitors. We found the answer in Prohibition – an old-school, authentic Scotch, smooth on the tongue but with a big finish through the inclusion of different whiskies like The Macallan and Highland Park. Once the blend was created, the challenge was to find packaging which marked it out as something special.”

Edrington saw drinkers pouring shots from black glass bottles with white labels on Prohibition era TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and sought to replicate this for the new edition.

Traditionally, black glass is a very expensive option, but, thanks to the development of the Black Grouse Alpha Edition, Edrington knew there was a solution close at hand. Glassmaker O-I had installed technology to create black glass bottles cost-effectively at its Alloa plant, close to the company’s filling lines in Glasgow.

Packaging cost was still a challenge on a $30 whisky, so O-I and Edrington rationalized the options by utilizing the same bottle shape, cork and capsule that were already in production for Cutty Sark Storm.

Says Craig, “It’s amazing what black glass does to brand image. If you put the black version alongside a green Storm bottle, people say it looks bigger, seems more premium, feels a bit special. The cork seal also reflects the tradition of the time.”

To augment the large size impression and emphasize Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition’s authenticity, O-I has embossed “The Real McCoy” above the front label and “Since 1923” underneath it.

The label itself, designed by Mountain Creative, features the familiar Cutty Sark clipper image, but produced simply in black ink on cream paper, another nod towards the 1920s heritage.

When the 750ml bottle was tested in the U.S. the consumer response was exactly what Edrington hoped for – ‘this is a premium shot’.

Edrington’s initial orders for the U.S. have been matched by demand from other markets and the brand is launching in six countries, including the UK, in both 700ml and 750ml sizes. The company predicts it will be shipping up to 15,000 cases within three years.

Owens-Illinois, Inc. is the world’s largest glass container manufacturer, and preferred partner for many of the world’s leading food and beverage brands. With revenues of $7-billion in 2012, the Company is headquartered in Perrysburg, OH, U.S., and employs approximately 22,500 people at 79 plants in 21 countries. O-I delivers safe, sustainable, pure, iconic, brand-building glass packaging to a growing global marketplace. For more information, visit or


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