HP Indigo helped Diageo deliver an exclusive Epitome Reserve

HP Indigo’s customized printing brought to life India’s first artisanal whisky with Diageo

HP Indigo X Diageo
India's first artisanal Limited edition whisky

Diageo India’s leading beverage company set out to launch India’s first small-batch, artisanal craft, 100% rice whisky in just 80 days, it knew it wasn’t only the blend that had to be flawless.

“This was an opportunity to create a luxury whisky in India and a key part of our company’s premiumization strategy,” recalls Vikram Damodaran, Diageo India, chief innovation officer. “So, there was enormous pressure to get every detail – from the flavor to the packaging and product experience – perfect.”

The beautiful golden liquid blend is like no other whisky in India as it’s made of locally-sourced rice from the northern frontiers of Punjab, which then travels over 2,000 km to be matured in Goa in bourbon casks over 3 years, and then finished in PX Sherry and Cherrywood casks in a 50-year-old warehouse. This limited-edition whisky has been launched in an exclusive batch of 2,000 numbered bottles, another first for the country. To emphasize the exclusivity of its whisky, Diageo India called on Trigon Digital’s expertise and the cutting-edge HP Indigo 25K Digital Press to help it create individually numbered bottles.

HP Indigo – Delivering small-batch and variable printing at a speed

“Due to the small batch size and variable printing needed, we knew it wasn’t going to be possible to use conventional printing technology here,” says Hiren Dedhia, Diageo India’s design head. “We also needed a fast turnaround if we were to meet our extremely ambitious timeline for launching the brand—which was just 80 days.”

After weighing up the options, the team at Diageo India recognized that Trigon’s HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press would be much the best choice for its job. As digital printing doesn’t require printing plates, the HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press enables Trigon to offer its customers print runs with no minimum size, greater flexibility, and shorter lead times. It also allows Trigon to automate more production processes, helping them to deliver jobs with maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The printer’s variable data printing feature, used in combination with HP SmartStream Designer software, meant Trigon was able to easily accommodate Diageo India’s request for each bottle to feature its own unique number.

Providing exceptional color matching capabilities

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For Diageo India’s design team, HP Indigo’s ability to print on a huge range of substrates – from plastic films and foils to glass and wood – and exceptional color matching capabilities were also significant advantages.

“Even though each bottle was different, we needed our branding and the rest of the packaging to be consistent across the whole print run,” says Dedhia. Experimenting with an uncoated substrate for the first time meant the stakes were even higher for the company.

“It was a risk but HP Indigo’s ability to produce consistently amazing print quality regardless of the substrate meant we got the perfect color match we were after,” says Dedhia. “The team at our design agency Butterfly Canon was amazed at how good it was.” With the HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press, Trigon was also able to turn the job around quickly without compromising on quality, helping the company to meet its tight timeline for completing the project.

“Using the HP Indigo Press enabled us to realize our goal of giving each bottle of our limited-edition whisky its own unique number,” says Damodaran. “By doing so, we’ve been able to create an exclusive product experience that will delight whisky connoisseurs, collectors of artisanal liquors and younger generations of whisky enthusiasts who particularly appreciate hyper-personalized experiences. This approach is also helping to bolster our position as a leader in the premium alcoholic beverage market.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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