For their 225th anniversary, Laird and Company have re-branded their flagship product, and not a moment too soon. According to press releases, the packaging was introduced in February of 2005, but it’s only now that the new bottles are appearing on Portland-area shelves. That it took nine months for the old stock to turn over suggests that either the OLCC buys its applejack in considerable bulk, or — more likely — that applejack’s popularity is at a very low ebb.
Lairds’ packaging was terribly overdue for a refresh … for as long as I can remember, their trade dress has been stuck in a sort of mid-’70’s American Bicentennial mode of faux woodblock type on a greenish-brown coated paper label, adhered to dark brown glass. To my eye it was the product of a company whose marketing department had fallen into a thirty-year slumber. This didn’t prevent me from buying it — a man must have his Jack Roses — but it certainly wasn’t enticing new consumers to the only commercially-produced applejack left in America. As can be seen, the new packaging is clear glass, to better display the liquor, and takes advantage of pressure-sensitive adhesive films for the “label-less look,” front and back. It’s clean and updated, but historically informed — really a remarkably executed redesign, considering the torpor the brand had fallen into. I hope it bodes well for the spirit.
Is it frivolous to offer a disquisition on a package design? Not, I think, in this case … a wretched looking bottle can only hurt sales, and since as goes the Laird’s brand, so goes the spirit, it’s important that the brand thrive. I very much want the Lairds, now in their 9th generation of distilling, to continue producing applejack for generations to come. If someday I can walk into a random barroom and order a Jack Rose without fear of failure, the world will have become a marginally better place.
Related: The Jack Rose