Company: Hammer & Son
Final Decision: 12 April 2017
Considered under 5th Edition of the Code.
“I believe this product, Hammer & Son Old English Gin, in in breach of the code provision on encouraging excessive drinking. It is a 750ml bottle of 44% spirit, and is closed with a wine-style cork, instead of a screw-cap or the type of stopper usually found on a spirit bottle. While it is still possible to re-seal the bottle, it is less practical than a more usual spirit closure, and the greater risk of spillage and risk of faster deterioration will encourage purchasers to drink the bottle more quickly than they would otherwise”.
Member of the public
Under Code paragraph 3.2(f)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as drink-driving, binge-drinking or drunkenness.
The company’s submission
The company’s response was limited but it did assert that bottles containing alcohol had been sealed with corks for centuries, and that there were thousands of different brands on the market sealing their products in this way. They believed therefore, that their product was in-keeping with this practice; and to support this provided an image depicting a bottle of their gin which had been opened and then resealed with the cork.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel was presented with a sealed bottle of Old English Gin with cork and wax seal intact. The Panel Secretariat proceeded to open the bottle demonstrating how the wax coating and cork were removed, and the cork inserted back into the neck of the bottle.
The Panel said it was disappointed by the company’s short response. The Panel’s first observation was that the bottle shape was more typical of a champagne bottle. This however did not cause the Panel to consider the packaging would confuse consumers because they noted that the large descriptor on the packaging, while stylised, very clearly read ‘Gin’.
The Panel considered that the company had deliberately chosen to seal the bottle with a cork, and used a champagne-style bottle, to differentiate it from other gins on the market. It also noted that the bottle was designed to be resealed with the cork because the brand name was etched upside down onto the cork so that when it was inserted into the neck the writing would be the right-way-up. The shape of the cork supported this view. In the Panel’s view, this was a deliberate design feature and further supported the company’s assertion that the bottle was designed to be resealed. It would also be possible for consumers to use a wine bottle stopper to reseal the bottle. The Panel was also of the view that because the bottle contained a spirit it was unlikely to deteriorate quickly, and thereby encourage consumers to consume the contents more quickly than they would otherwise have done, as asserted by the complainant. Nor did the Panel feel the product was at greater risk of spillage because of the cork stopper.
The Panel therefore concluded that the product did not breach Code paragraph 3.2(f) or any other aspect of the Code.
Action by the Company
No further action required.