4 Things Distilleries Should Consider When Labeling Spirits



The growing distillery market means bottle labeling decisions can make a huge impact on your success

We’ve got great news for you. The “craft” distilled spirits market is on the rise. In 2010, there were just a few dozen craft distillers in North America. Now the count sits at 600 and is projected to double over the next six years. The not-so-great news? With new brands popping up daily, you’ve got more competition than ever.

As the craft distilled spirits movement continues to gain momentum, you’re probably looking for innovative ways to make your brand stand out from the pack. What’s the best way to make that happen? Three words: smart bottle labeling. In a nutshell, this means you need a unique label that consistently looks sharp — and that your bottle labeling processes are efficient and cost-effective.

To make this happen, here are four things you’ll want to take into account.

1. Follow CURRENT TRENDS so you can stay in step with new and trending ideas. 

While you want your product and label to stand out, it’s also important that you’re aware of distilled spirits trends and the impetus behind them. This can help you find the sweet spot — where your own creative approach meets a design that feels like it belongs. Anyone else love a good Venn diagram?


Here are a few popular label styles for inspiration.


(Photo Credit: Dieline, Designed By: Think Bold Studio)

Vintage: Rooted in traditionalism, uses basic colors, highlights the distillery, nothing flashy



(Photo Credit: Dieline, Designed By: LINEA - The Spirits Valley Designers)

Eco-friendly: Uses recycled labels/materials and eco-friendly inks (organic, naturally sourced)



(Photo Credit: Packaging of the World, Designed By: LINEA - The Spirits Valley Designers)

Elegant: Minimalist artwork, often a clear label, usually a single color, screen printed

2. LABELING EQUIPMENT can make or break your distillery’s bottle labeling plan.

No matter how quickly your distilled spirits are produced, bottle labeling speed can be one of the biggest limiting factors faced by small-scale craft distillers. Investing in the best bottle labeling machine for your distilled spirits operation can pay for itself by increasing efficiency and productivity.

Here are three bottle labeling equipment types for distilled spirits.

  • Manual: Requires the user to load and hand-apply each label individually (slowest method)
  • Semi-automatic: The user loads bottles then presses a button to apply labels (quicker, more consistent)
  • Automatic: The user feeds bottles in, and the machine automatically places between 150-500 labels per minute depending on the type of machine (superior speed, control, and consistency)

Be sure to consider these factors before purchasing a labeling machine.

  • Efficiency Goals: Many businesses begin with manual bottle labeling, but find efficiency to be lacking. The addition of a semi-automatic labeling machine can increase productivity by almost 500%, allowing for up to 2,400 bottles per hour. Fully automatic machines can increase output to 9,000 bottles per hour.
  • Quality Standards: Automated bottle labeling technology protects your brand image with clean, well-placed labels that represent your distillery’s standard and quality. The best bottle labeling equipment includes stabilizers to ensure even, consistent placement, and thorough adhesion to reduce the chance of unsightly peeling or tearing.
  • Cost vs. Value: While the upfront costs of bottle labeling machines may seem daunting, it’s important to evaluate all of the cost factors involved. A one-time equipment purchase will be cheaper in the long run than ongoing labor costs for a full-time staff member to affix labels. Plus, employees can be put to more valuable use once your labeling process is automated. You’ll also see a reduction in wasted materials and products.

The Spirits Industry Guide to Evaluating Labeling Equipment

3. EVALUATE YOUR SETUP to get the right machine for your distillery.

Every filling, capping, and labeling operation is different, so it’s important to establish parameters based on your current setup and future goals. This will help you choose a machine that meets your needs without taking up too much space or overcomplicating your process.

Evaluation Checklist

🗸    Production run needs

  • Clearly identify your goals for labeling and production
  • Decide how much product you want to move and what speed will be required to meet your goals
  • Choose a machine that will be simple to set up and maintain with limited downtime

🗸    Space and equipment needs

  • Find a labeling machine that will fit into the space that you have
  • Consider existing equipment compatibility and overall production line design
  • Look into helpful add-ons like a pack-out table .
  • Choose a setup that meets your current needs but that also can grow with your company

🗸    Container and label needs

  • Know the size and shape of the bottles you’ll be labeling
  • Determine the type of labels you’ll be using (i.e., individual front and back labels, complete wrap-around labels, small labels on the neck)
  • Note: Unusual shapes or distinctive tapers will require a labeling machine that can accommodate this

🗸    Quality considerations

  • Use high-quality containers as imperfections and inconsistencies may negatively impact label placement 
  • Inferior quality labels are susceptible to tearing, poor ink quality, and other malfunctions
  • Paper versus synthetic labels may yield different results
  • Choose containers and labels based on well-known and proven brand names for trusted results

4. Choose a BOTTLE LABELING PARTNER for guidance and ongoing support.

Choosing the right bottle labeling machine for your distilled spirits can make a positive impact on your overall operation. From the initial purchasing decision to training and setup to repair, it’s crucial to partner with a company that’s responsive and helpful.

When looking for a trustworthy partner, consider these things:

  • Make sure they answer questions or concerns and demonstrate the ability to assist with problems
  • Get recommendations from within the distilled spirits community
  • Consider timeliness of responses, whether or not they stand behind their products, and how the ongoing support structure works
  • Find out if any parts are known to wear out and what the wait time is for replacements
  • Ask about quality-control procedures for parts, repairs, and new machines
  • Verify that used and refurbished machinery and components are thoroughly inspected and tested

Is your distillery poised for success?

The effective use of automated bottle labeling technology offers vast improvements in productivity and output for distilled spirits operations — but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Finding the right labeling machine to meet your distillery’s needs while not spending too much on features you won’t use is the key to optimizing your whole labeling operation.

As an established leader in the modular labeling industry, Pack Leader USA can help you find the best solution. Our easy-to-use, cost-friendly labeling machines are a great fit for the growing distilled spirits industry. We provide more than just a simple piece of equipment for your assembly line, but instead, want to set the bar for quality and customer satisfaction in the labeling industry.

To learn more about bottle labeling options and best practices for the distilled spirits industry, download our free guide today.

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