Established in 1824 in the Speyside region of Scotland, The Glenlivet is the oldest legal distillery in the eponymous region where other distilleries have operated for decades. According to its parent company, Pernod Ricard, The Glenlivet is the “world’s No.2 Premium malt whisky”, offering a range that consists of 12, 15, 18 Years, 21, and 25 years, with a number of limited edition whiskies. Recently, the whisky introduced a new icon in its logo, designed by London-based SomeOne with the illustration crafted by Chris Wormell.
‘Glenlivet’ literally means ‘The Valley of the smooth-flowing one’ and refers to the River Livet which flows through the distillery estate and which is the water source for the whisky. The previous thistle mark, which stood proud for more than fifty years, had reached an impasse. A thistle is synonymous with Scotland, but is also a cliché. Something more distinctive to The Glenlivet was needed to represent the brand and to be universally understood.
The River Livet passes under an old smuggler’s packhorse bridge as it flows through The Glenlivet estate. “Hundreds of years old and still standing strong, the bridge helped early bootleggers distribute their whisky undetected”, says Tom Myers, senior designer on the project. “It is this bridge that was identified for the new signifier, spiralling out from the centre of a perfect circle.”
To help bring this vision to life SomeOne worked with long-time collaborator and master craftsman Christopher Wormell. By crafting the signifier in linocut, Christopher was not only able to add that vital handcrafted touch, but also made it robust and detailed enough for modern application.
To clarify one aspect: The wordmark remains exactly the same on this; it’s only the icon that is changing. The old thistle was okay; it was executed properly and as long as you like thistles then that’s probably all you need. But it’s definitely a recurring visual symbol — particularly in Scotland as it is the national floral emblem — that just as easily applies to paper products, which is not to say that there is anything wrong with it nor that a depiction of a bridge is more appropriate yet by choosing this regionally iconic bridge it gives The Glenlivet a more specific image to tell its story.
The new icon is downright beautiful, working just as well at small sizes as big. It could probably be a tad larger in the lock-up so that it had the same visual weight as the thistle. The drawing manages to capture the shape and dimension of the slightly awkward bridge as well as its rock texture and the fuzzy layer of flora that has grown around it.
This is not the typical SomeOne project where they’ve done a bunch of applications around a visual language and there isn’t a huge concept to it — which makes the commenters on Creative Review go humorously bananas — but sometimes it’s nice to see a simple idea executed with great craft. Another important move was switching from an overall green color to purple, as green is overplayed in spirits and beer and this deep purple looks quite regal and tasty. Will drink to that!