McCormick Distilling Co., Weston, MO, commercializes the first PET liquor bottle with a built-in handle. The 1.75-L polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle for the company’s popular vodka brand is being supplied by Amcor PET Packaging.
McCormick brought its vision to Amcor two years ago and challenged its engineering team to come up with a commercial solution. The project would end up pushing both container and equipment engineering to new limits.
“We knew that you can’t blow a PET handle, so we worked with Amcor to figure out how to do it. We even looked at a clip-on version, but found out pretty quickly that it wouldn’t support the 1.75-L volume,” Zargo says.
“This is an extremely difficult process to execute. One of the trickiest elements is to make sure that the grip is perfectly placed inside the mold. If that is not done correctly or if the material isn’t heated just right, you either won’t ‘capture’ the grip or you will puncture the material,” explains Jonathan Jarman, project engineer, Amcor. “The other major issue is that there wasn’t a machine with a proven track record for this type of application.”
Since there were no commercially available units, a proprietary “reheat, blow” machine was purpose-built for the project. (The bottle is produced at Amcor’s state-of-the art, Nicholasville, KY plant. The facility is known as the “center of excellence” for liquor production.)
With all of those variables in the mix, the bottle design itself also needed to make accommodations for the volume displaced by the grip.
“McCormick wanted us to emulate the look of their former 1.75-L bottle, but we needed to modify that a little to still get the right volume. The solution was to move the shoulder up and reduce the neck height,” Jarman says.
Two years in the making, the bottle entered distribution at the beginning of the year. The company has a special section on its website heralding the launch.
“McCormick Vodka, the Quadruple Distilled, #2 Selling Domestic Vodka introduces the industry’s first lightweight plastic bottle with a built-in handle. For over 150 years, the McCormick Distilling Company has been a pillar of quality, integrity and innovation, widely recognized as one of the founders and foremost innovators of the industry. This storied reputation is due in large part to our flagship brand, McCormick Vodka, which is made from pristine American Grain and ranks as one of the leading spirits nationwide.
Yes, even with all the success McCormick Vodka had achieved, we saw room for improvement. That’s why we embarked on a two-year journey to further enhance the McCormick Vodka experience, which resulted in the industry’s first-ever, built-in handle on a plastic bottle.”
Since the introduction, McCormick has been enjoying strong feedback from both distributors and retailers.
“We are also happy to report that consumers are reacting very favorably to the new bottle. We have already experienced sales growth and are gaining distribution based on the new packaging,” Zargo says.
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