The Empiric Gin

Branding for The Empiric Gin
Hired Guns Creative provided the product naming, branding, and packaging design for The Empiric, a gin from Arbutus Distillery, Vancouver Island’s newest craft distillery.

Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design for The Empiric Gin

The Brief

Arbutus Distillery had three main objectives for the packaging of their inaugural product lineup:

  1. Compete with the other brands in their competitive set. Many small craft distilleries’ products look amateur or homemade when compared with products from the large spirits producers. Arbutus wanted their products to stand tall against some of the most famous products in the industry and outperform products from their smaller, regional competitors.
  2. Create brands for each of its products that are distinct from each of the other products and from the overall distillery brand. This approach will make it easy to make changes to one or two of their products down the road without having to redo the packaging of their entire product line.
  3. Showcase a bit of the darker, wickeder side of our earthly existence without scaring consumers away.


The Approach

Rather than try to introduce a completely new concept to consumers, Richard Hatter created brands for Arbutus Distillery that are deeply rooted in history, redressing it, modernizing it, tweaking it, refining it. This parallels the approach that Arbutus Distillery takes when creating their products. Richard used imagery and concepts for the Arbutus products that consumers recognize on a deeper, older level… perhaps from old stories, dreams, or nightmares. This packaging is a throwback to the Empirical death doctors who would dispense a crude form of gin to treat plague patients. Richard combined historical detail with quintessential West Coast visual elements: ravens and touches of Haida art. The frosted black bottle and black wax closure are references to the black plague while the colour scheme, foils, and embossed details speak to the quality level of the spirit inside the bottle.

Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design for The Empiric Gin

Printing & Glass Details

At Hired Guns Creative we stay on top of new and emerging printing and packaging technologies/techniques, filing them away for the right project. We worked hand in hand with the label printer to ensure that the label would work effectively with the extensive amounts of foil & embossing that the design called for. For bottle selection, we were limited to stock bottle shapes because Arbutus Distillery isn’t large enough yet to warrant custom glass. We chose a bottle that was different than the other stock bottles commonly used in their competitive set, likely because it is a bit more expensive than the lower-end options. It is made of higher quality, thicker glass and reinforces the “craft” part of the craft distillery image that Arbutus Distillery is cultivating. It has a sexy shape and a lot of surface area to work with when designing labels. Also, it’s suitable for the entire range of products that they have planned in the future (vodka, absinthe, whiskey, etc.)

Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design for The Empiric (gin)

Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design for The Empiric (gin)

Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design for The Empiric (gin)

Back Label Copy

Cloaked in midnight black, ever-present, seldom seen, The Empiric resides amid the twisted cedars of temperate West Coast rain forests. Ruled by ritual, The Empiric gathers strength from the spirits, invoking darkness to expose light. A bearer of natural magic and harbinger of deeply shrouded secrets, The Empiric is a menacing beauty, bringing clarity only to those who are truly worthy. Decades of knowledge and practice collide, exploding into a spirit that tastes like no other, an ethereal blend of the finest West Coast herbs and botanicals.


Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design for The Empiric (gin)



See our other projects for Arbutus Distillery:

Coven Vodka, for Arbutus Distillery

Coven Vodka

Baba Yaga Absinthe, for Arbutus Distillery

Baba Yaga Absinthe

Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design for The Empiric (gin)