The Helsinki Distilling Company distillery


Natural is the new luxury - in both the products and packaging

​Finnish craft distillery The Helsinki Distilling Company combines a true respect for raw materials with an uncompromising attention to detail. Their White Dog new-make spirit and its packaging both communicate a brand aesthetic where the raw and uncut meets a luxurious finish.

4/2018 TEXT: MARI SUONTO, IMAGES: SEPPO SAMULI

It all started with the raw material – Finnish rye – and one simple question. Three mates and whiskey enthusiasts – Séamus Holohan, Kai Kilpinen and Mikko Mykkänen – were spending midsummer together and sipping on an American rye whiskey. 

“We started to wonder why there were no Finnish-made rye whiskies while even American whiskey distilleries bought their rye from Finland because of its superior quality,” says Kai Kilpinen. Some years passed, and since no one seemed to be taking the task on, the three men took it upon themselves to start their own distillery. In 2014, The Helsinki Distilling Company was founded and the first whiskies were distilled and put into barrels to mature in the company’s small craft distillery in Helsinki’s Teurastamo district. 

Respect for the raw material and balance through contrast

Since day one, the company’s brand aesthetic has focused on bringing out the best of first-class raw materials – namely Finnish rye and barley malt. 

The Helsinki Distilling Company’s first whiskies were launched in 2017, and the company has a range of other spirits and beverages on the market. In spring 2018, they launched their first new-make spirit product: Helsinki White Dog, which was first available in select bars and restaurants and was launched for consumers during spring 2018. 

For the consumer launch, it was vital to create a package that perfectly communicated The Helsinki Distilling Company’s premium image.  

“In the consumer market, the packaging is of huge importance. It creates the first impression of the brand and an expectation for what the product will taste like,” Kilpinen says.   

The packaging should thus be an extension of the company’s taste philosophy, which focuses on respect for pure raw materials and a fine-tuned balance of contrasting elements. 

“In Helsinki White Dog that means a balance of sweetness and malt flavour – both strong but not over the top and neither overpowering the other,” Kilpinen explains. 

Similarly, the two main elements in the packaging – the base material of Metsä Board white kraftliner and details made of hot foiling – form a balance between an organic surface and shiny details. 

“The pure paperboard material itself is front and centre: uncoated with no printing used in the entire packaging,” explains Ilkka Harju, Metsä Board’s Packaging Services Director, who was closely involved in the design process with Kilpinen and The Helsinki Distilling Company’s Art Director Aleksi Ahjopalo

“Combined with the hot foil details pressed into the paperboard, it makes for a beautiful 3D effect and contrast that I think works like a charm.”  

The Helsinki Distilling Company's distillery

Natural to the touch 

The packaging was created in cooperation by The Helsinki Distilling Company, paperboard provider Metsä Board, microflute producer DS Smith Sheetfeeding and Starcke, who produced the final package, including the hot foil finishes. 

The entire process from the first design meeting between Kilpinen, Ahjopalo and Harju to the finished product took only a few weeks. 

“It was an extremely dynamic project. Simplicity was key: both in the final product and in stripping down all the unnecessary stages from the process,” Harju says. 

The first step was getting the material right.   

"We had a feeling right away that a microflute made totally of Metsä Board’s white kraftliner, MetsäBoard Natural WKL Bright, would be the right choice for The Helsinki Distilling Company’s brand.”  

After sampling the material, Kilpinen agreed – the look and feel of the board was just right. 

“For a premium product, a sense of authenticity is crucial,” Kilpinen explains. “The natural quality of the uncoated material gives the packaging a natural feel to the touch.” 

Fostering a local spirit 

For The Helsinki Distilling Company, Finnish companies like Metsä Board and Starcke were a natural choice as partners. 

“We are a distinctly local company down to our name, so it makes sense to choose local producers, especially when we know that local materials are of extremely high quality,” Kilpinen says, and adds that materials must also perform well from a sustainability point of view.  

“We appreciate Metsä Board’s strong sustainability credentials – it goes without saying that a premium brand like ours must use sustainably sourced materials.” 

Pure fresh fibre from northern forests is a natural companion to a spirit made of pure Finnish rye and barley. With the right kind of attention to detail, great raw materials are turned into the most authentic definition of luxury. 

“We are very happy with the finished packaging and feel that it does a fantastic job communicating the true spirit of Helsinki White Dog.”

Helsinki White Dog Whiskey kraftliner packaging

Organic touch and feel – hapticity in brand packaging

So-called haptic cues – i.e. the touch and feel of packaging materials – are becoming a more and more prominent consideration in package design.  

Together with the visual look, haptic qualities affect consumers’ overall impression of the brand. Hapticity is especially important in premium consumer packaging that is meant to entice consumers in a store environment.  

While the touch and feel of premium brand packaging has, traditionally, favoured glossy surfaces, the current trend allows for more organic surface finishes. 

“Combined with demanding special effects, this creates new differentiation possibilities in luxury packaging. The demand for an organic feel, especially in food packaging, goes hand in hand with the larger trend of people looking for locally sourced and organically produced products – similarly the packaging should also communicate a natural feel to the touch,” says Metsä Board’s Ilkka Harju. 


Read more articles about the topic:
Capturing the imagination: Kyrö Distillery

Related articles

Most popular articles

  • 2020/ Markets and trends

    Food safety isn’t just about food - the packaging is important too

    With people choosing to eat at home more often, it's important that groceries and takeaway food can be delivered to consumers safely. Packaging has a vital part to play in this process. Marjatta Punkka, Product Safety Manager at Metsä Board, says that food safety certification is one way to guarantee safe production methods and minimise risk throughout the production chain.

    Read More
  • Rapala package for luring fish

    2020/ Customer case

    Cooperation with a digital printer created an alluring package for luring fish

    ​Rapala, a leading fishing lure innovator, chose Metsä Board’s premium lightweight paperboard for its striking lure packaging. The packaging was digitally printed by PackageMedia.

    Read More
  • 2020/ Markets and trends

    What does e-commerce mean for food packaging?

    Packaging for food must meet certain basic requirements to be fit for purpose, but are there different factors to consider when it's sold online? With online grocery sales on the rise, brands must consider how packaging can enhance the shopping experience for their customers. We spoke with Anna Keinänen, Business Intelligence Manager at Metsä Board, to uncover some key considerations for food packaging when selling online.

    Read More
  • 2020/ Insights

    Where’s the line between healthy eating and indulging?

    ​Historically, eating healthily and treating oneself have largely been viewed as mutually exclusive, with self-indulgent foods thought of in terms of takeaways and fatty, sugary or spicy foods and healthy food often perceived to be bland and boring. Can a balance be struck between these extremes? We explore this fascinating theme with Anu Rehtijärvi, Business Intelligence Manager at Metsä Board.

    Read More
  • 2020/ Insights

    It takes three to tango: Collaboration drives innovation

    Today’s companies are faced with a growing number of requirements. They’re expected to provide rapid new solutions on a global scale, especially in cost-effectiveness and sustainable development. The problems to be solved are complex. Issues and challenges must be examined from multiple perspectives if sustainable solutions are to be found.

    For example, consumer packaging must be more environmentally friendly and cost-effective, and it must better reflect the product’s brand.

    Read More
  • 2020/ Customer case

    An outstanding organic coffee package uses Metsä Board’s paperboard

    When Dutch coffee brand Zuivere Koffie was developing its new coffee range, it wanted the packaging to be both sustainable and eye-catching. In order to achieve this dual aim, Zuivere Koffie collaborated with Metsä Board. The converter, Remmert Dekker Packaging, challenged themselves to find an extra special something to bring to the project.

    Read More
  • Metsä Board's new graphical brochure

    2020/ Products and services

    Metsä Board's new demo brochure shows how to create stunning graphical print

    Packaging and graphical professionals are constantly looking for new ways to attract consumers. There is often an artistic vision and haptic feeling that the printed piece should convey. With modern printing techniques it is possible to produce various touch and feel properties, but outstanding technical characteristics are also required from the paperboard. 

    Read More
  • 2020/ Insights

    Demand for authenticity challenges pharma packaging

    ​Alongside growing consumption, the need for authenticity is increasing in pharma packages. Pharma companies and consumers alike want to be sure that the medicine is legitimate – not a forgery and has not been tampered with. Tamper-evident features are a tool to ensure the safety of the packed product. 

    Read More
  • Moomin Golf set

    2020/ Customer case

    A premium package starts with the right material choices

    ​An attractive gift item requires an equally impressive package. Metsä Board's design team helped to create an appealing package for a golf ball gift set featuring the universally loved Moomin characters.  

    Read More
  • cartonboard cosmetics

    2020/ Products and services

    A perfect match made both in sustainability and look

    SIM Finland Oy is a cosmetics manufacturer that emphasises purity, quality, and design in its products, and pays special attention to sustainability issues. When the company recently renewed its SensiDO professional hair colour range it chose a packaging material that mirrored these exacting values. MetsäBoard Pro FBB Bright is a lightweight fresh fibre paperboard with a low carbon footprint manufactured in Finland by Metsä Board.

     

    Read More
  • waterproof coating, paperboard, beverage cooler, packaging, cooling tray

    2020/ Customer case

    Innovative and recyclable drink cooler made with paperboard

    ​Showcasing a sustainable alternative for food packaging – that was the aim of the new demo project by Weilburger Graphics. The company created an innovative and recyclable beverage cooler made from paperboard and using a completely new waterproof coating.  

    Read More
  • Mika Joukio

    2020/ Insights

    Mika Joukio: Climate change is driving companies to renew

    ​Even though the coronavirus crisis has impacted our daily lives in many ways and dominates the news headlines, concern for the impact of climate change has by no means disappeared. Combatting climate change and the risks and opportunities that the changing climate brings with it are questions that companies need to answer through their actions.

    Read More
  • e-commerce packaging sustainble fresh fibre

    2020/ Sustainability

    E-commerce changes recycling patterns and challenges recycled fibre quality

    ​E-commerce has, during the past few years, seen a particular boost before Christmas. In 2020, the pandemic will, without doubt, bring e-commerce sales to a new Christmas record, as shoppers avoid brick-and-mortar stores.

    Read More
  • Single-use fibre-based packaging

    2021/ Insights

    New study shows that single-use fibre-based packaging in quick service restaurants is better for the environment than reusab

    ​​A study published by the European Paper Packaging Association (EPPA) reveals that single-use fibre-based food and drink packaging used in European quick service restaurants provide significant key environmental advantages when compared to reusable tableware.

    Read More
  • 2021/ Insights

    When I go to work in the morning, I leave my inner designer at home

    ​As packaging designers, the first mistake we often make is to create a package that pleases us rather than the people who will buy the product inside. My trick to avoid this is to leave my inner designer at home and step into the consumer's shoes instead.  

    Read More
  • 2021/ Insights

    Pharma packaging – what’s on the horizon?

    ​Finnish packaging converter Jaakkoo-Taara is an ISO-certified company with decades of experience in producing a diverse range of packaging solutions for the demanding and strictly regulated pharma industry. We spoke to CEO Thomas Brusila about the hot topics that are shaping his business.

    Read More
  • Excellence Centre

    2021/ Products and services

    Let’s wrap up the perfect package – together

    ​Sustainable, renewable and recyclable packaging is in serious demand right now, and so are solutions that enhance consumer experience. Wrapping up the perfect package requires teamwork based on strong collaborations, which is exactly what we are developing at our new Excellence Centre. Our new workshop concepts for co-creating solutions with our customers and partners are purpose-built for deep collaboration. These sessions, which can also be run virtually, have been very successful at bringing together the right people in the right place at the right time to innovate new sustainable packaging solutions.

    Read More
  • Making medical products sustainable

    2021/ Customers

    Making medical products sustainable

    ​​Creating a sustainable packaging solution for medical products was the goal that ERBA Diagnostics Mannheim and AR Packaging Graz set themselves for the new ISE-Analyzer EC Cartridge.

    Read More
  • Metsä Board packaging transit

    2021/ Products and services

    Intelligent packaging tested for sheeted paperboard transit

    ​​Clever packaging concepts are not only made from Metsä Board's sustainable paperboard – the paperboard itself can utilise new types of intelligence too.

    Read More
  • 2021/ Insights

    Hygiene and safety are important in the new normal

    ​​Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we are all more aware of the importance of good hygiene. This also affects how we look at food products and packaging. In fact, packaging has taken on a completely new meaning during the past year.

    Read More
  • 2021/ Insights

    Environmental benefits from using renewable energy and lighter weight fresh fibre boards

    ​Rising environmental awareness has become a megatrend, with many consumers changing their behavior to adopt a greener lifestyle. They consciously pay attention to the environmental impact of the products they are purchasing, and the packaging is also under critical scrutiny. Packaging made of recycled materials is often assumed to be a more sustainable choice which, based on many aspects, is not always factually true.

    Read More
  • Digital printing

    2021/ Customers

    Digital printing brings a consumer’s voice to packaging

    ​​Finland's leading ready-to-eat food company, Saarioinen, launched soup packaging just before Valentine's Day, for consumers to share their own messages. An online platform combined with digital printing, opened up exciting new opportunities for the packaging.

    Read More
  • 2021/ Customer case

    Metsä Board’s paperboard protects COVID-19 vaccines

    ​Creating sustainable, safe and pure medical and pharmaceutical packaging solutions that are compliant with good manufacturing practices and quality management is on the increase globally, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been increasing the need further.  

    Read More
  • 2021/ Insights

    A revolution that began at the Kemi mill

    ​Ever wondered what the secret is behind the bold, bright and beautiful designs on the box for the new TV or laptop you've just bought, or the eye-catching vegetable boxes and store displays at your local supermarket? The answer is coated white top kraftliner, a material that changed the corrugated packaging market for good after its introduction in the early 90s. 

    Read More
  • 2021/ Insights

    Sustainable, recyclable, impactful – why the future is bright for premium corrugated packaging

    I might be biased, but I’ve always seen the corrugated package as a simply brilliant construction. And with sustainability and circular economy thinking at the top of the agenda for both brands and consumers today, this lightweight, sustainable and recyclable material is more relevant than ever.  

    Read More
  • PrintCity Alliance

    2021/ Markets and trends

    Packaging projects at the limit of technical feasibility require cooperation

    ​In an industry where multiple companies are involved in the conception of a single product it is important to identify and resolve potential challenges in the supply chain during the planning process. This is most successful when all those involved are able to come together and exchange ideas. The Packaging Inspiration Forum (PIF) is a place to do just that. It was set up by the PrintCity strategic alliance and took place digitally for the first time this year. Metsä Board is pleased to be a member of the PrintCity Alliance.

    Read More
  • World Book Day uses sustainable paperboard by Metsä Board

    2021/ Customer case

    World Book Day uses sustainable paperboard for its ‘I’ll give you a story’ book

    ​On 23 April, the UNESCO World Book Day, bookstores, publishers, libraries, schools and reading enthusiasts across Germany celebrate a large reading festival, a regional tradition since 1995.

    Read More
Print