Cráneo Organic Mezcal

Derrick Lin


Creative Agency: Van Heertum Design VHD
Project Type: Produced, Commercial Work
Client: 123 Spirits
Location: LA, USA
Packaging Contents: Organic produced Mezcal (distilled alcoholic beverage)
Packaging Substrate / Materials: Handblown 100% recycled glass, recycled paper, wooden cap
Printing Process: Printing with soy based ink

Inspired by the celebration of life, Cráneo Organic Mezcal is a single village artisanal mezcal handcrafted by local maestro mezcaleros and agave aficionado David Ravandi in the heartland of Santiago Matatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico. We got the inspiring challenge to create the suiting packaging. The result is a design, that tells the brand story using all parts of the packaging.

Cráneo Organic Mezcal begins with hand selecting 100% organic agave grown at 5,600 ft. Harvested when fully matured, charred pit oven roasted piñas are then crushed by a massive stone tahona to extract their sweet juice. Once natural fermentation occurs, small batches of Cráneo Organic Mezcal are distilled twice in copper pot stills capturing bold, complex flavors of agave, rich fermentation notes and smoke. Dedicated to the preservation of ancient Oaxaca methods of artisanal distillation while sustaining the highest quality of production, David combines the experience and respect of those who have produced the finest mezcal for generations with his own vision and passion. These organic and artisanal brand values, together with the authentic Mexican craftsmanship, needed to be communicated through the packaging design.

Instead of just using the graphic design, we also chose to use all materials and production techniques available, to underline and strengthen the brand values. Hand-blowing the glass was chosen to create the bottles from 100% recycled glass (underlining both the craftmanship in production and organic nature of the mezcal). Furthermore the labels are produced from recycled paper, are printed with soy-based inks and glued to the bottles using vegetable based glue; to top it of, wooden caps with natural cork are used. The graphic design of the labels continues on this road of organic design perfection. Honouring century old Mexican

traditions, the sacred skull depicted on the label was inspired by the Aztec Goddess Mictecacihuatl ‘Meek-teka-seewahdl’, the guardian of the bones, which symbolizes strength and influence, complementing the artisanal mescal that derives its strength and character from agave espadin. Only black and white is used, symbolizing the pureness of the transparent organic spirit. The artwork of the skull was hand carved into wood (symbolizing the craftsmanship), which was the base for the actual print work (with soy inks) onto the recycled paper. To give the label the real hand carved feeling, the carvings where embossed into the label.

The result is a design that tells the brand story using all parts of the bottle. The packaging is used as real added value communication tool. Making a real statement in a market where luxury bottles and production processes are not the most environmentally friendly.