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In southern China in Guangdong province, 700 years of Eastern rice spirit-making tradition meets distinctive barrel-aging methods of the West. Here, rice meets oak to forge a new frontier for Chinese whisky and wine.
  • Brand Strategy
  • Brand Identity
  • Packaging
  • e-Commerce
  • Photography & Video

Reviving the Chinese artisan spirit.

Our brief was to brand and package an ultra-premium barrel-aged baijiu (rice spirit) and rice wine, drawing from both Eastern and Western design influences; to honour the unique product story of “rice meets oak”; and to develop a unique and compelling brand that would appeal to both Eastern and Western markets. As founder, Justin Zhang explains, “Grand Talon is a renaissance of the true Chinese spirit of the artisan”. Our task was to realise this in a globally relevant and distinguished way.

It was our strategic recommendation to position the aged rice spirit as a ‘rice whisky’ (not a barrel-aged baijiu) to ensure it wouldn’t get lost in the miscellaneous ‘foreign spirits' section in Western retail environments.

“How do we persuade the target audience to try Grand Talon Whisky over more conventional whisky styles?” “How do we overcome the hurdle of Chinese made vs European made whisky when it comes to the perception of quality?”

The answer was to reveal the untold story of artisan China that has long been hidden from most whisky bars and shelves. Rice wine making is an ancient craft dating as far back as 1000 BC and rice distillation is around 700 years old so the story is steeped in cultural significance waiting to be uncovered.

The brand name had to appeal to two both eastern and western markets with audiences from varied cultural backgrounds. For this reason, we chose the dragon as the inspiration for the name and packaging concept. The dragon is not only a globally recognizable symbol of Chinese culture but for thousands of years, the majestic dragon has been heralded by those across the east for its proud bearing, fierce talons and the mystical rainmaking power it brings to the rice fields. And so, Grand Talon was born.

The myth forged in glass

The brand idea of the dragon comes to life through a custom bottle design. We drew inspiration from the scales of the dragon that when sculptured in glass are similar to that of a cut crystal whisky decanter.

For the rice wine, we slightly modified the design and coated the glass in an opaque jade green colour. We purposely incorporated more traditional Chinese cues for the rice wine as market insight showed that this product would attract a predominantly ‘traditional’ Eastern audience.

To elevate the product experience and encourage gifting purchase each product is housed in a bespoke box or canister. The whisky canister is wrapped in naturally textured card stock and features an illustrated dragon that discreetly weaves its way around into partial view. The canister is finished with a stained timber closure and sealed with a branded wax-like resin stamp and ribbon.

Immersive digital experience

An immersive e-commerce website experience that deep dives into the unique process around making each product with a clear path to purchase. It also offers a robust platform to curate the rich video and photography.

Celebrating Chinese artisan spirit

We created a cinematic brand video that takes you on a journey from the rice field through to the glass. We celebrate the true Chinese spirit of the artisan capturing 700 year old wine and spirit making techniques.

We worked with world class mixologists to create a range of cocktails to inspire both adventurous whisky lovers and baijiu & rice wine drinkers to break away from traditional serves. We created a series of 'how to' videos suitable for both the bar and the home.

The final result is a distinguished brand and product range that honours its 700-year-old Chinese heritage while forging a new frontier for artisanal baijiu and rice wine in Asia and beyond. It was a challenge and rewarding experience to shape a product that would be introduced to both Eastern and Western markets. We now eagerly watch to see how the world will embrace Grand Talon.