The great collaboration with Hooghoudt
It all started in 1888, in a small cellar at Oosterstraat, a street in the very centre of Groningen. Currently the fifth generation is working at Hooghoudt, which can still proudly call itself a family business. The collaboration between Krepel and Hooghoudt sprang from a special project: developing the packaging for a 23-year-old genever. This genever is the result of barrels that at the time were filled by Hero Jan Hooghoudt (third generation).
At Hooghoudt they offer something for everyone, which means that genever has different target groups. Genever can take on the flavour of a gin, or you can let it mature which makes it more like a whiskey. “We can dress our genevers with botanicals, which has a strong impact on flavour,” Michiel Brandsma, product manager at Hooghoudt explains. “For example, hops, iris root, liquorice and orange peel have been added to the unique 23-year-old genever that is now on the market. We continue to enrich people’s taste palettes.”
Export to US and Chinese markets
In addition to a barrel that is bottled for the Dutch market, barrels are reserved for export to America and China. “For some time now, we’ve been working together with a number of other genever brands to put genever back on the map in America,” Michiel says. “In the US, genever is gradually growing in popularity. You can tell that the whole gin hype over there is a bit past it. Bartenders, for example, are looking for something unique again. The broad taste palette of genever offers a solution here, also for applications in cocktails. There is a need for special products for the Chinese market, as the market for these is huge. The Sweet Spiced Genever, which includes candy, cinnamon and vanilla, is our regular genever for the Chinese market. This is a sultry genever that makes for a perfect serve with ginger ale and lime and tastes like a fresh summer cocktail. With the 23-year-old genever, we are also bringing something completely different to the market in China.”
Unique packaging for a unique product
A unique product like the 23-year-old genever deserves unique packaging. Packaging that accentuates quality and authenticity. The apparently basic wooden packaging fits in well with the philosophy of the Hooghoudt brand and creates an attractive unit with the bottle thanks to the choice of materials and elements that have been applied. Oak has been used, which is the same type of wood from which the genever barrels are made. “In total there will be five generations of packaging, each symbolising the Hooghoudt generations. The bottles that come in the packaging are all unique. For example, the wax stamps are never identical and each label bears the relevant barrel and bottle number. The icons we use in the wax stamps also appear on the wooden packaging and can be traced back to the ingredients of the genever and the history of the family brand,” Michiel explains.
The packaging is open, so the bottle is central in its overall presentation. The engraved icons, for example, show the Groningen stamp, the year of creation, a still, juniper berries, a royal crown and a ‘hoogholtje’. The latter is a high wooden bridge typical for the north of the Netherlands and from which the Hooghoudt family name originates. The icons seem to be placed randomly, but their positioning has been thought through in detail.
Collaboration with a stylish result
“We had an idea for the packaging and an image of what it more or less should look like. Our question was specific, but there were also some vital details that still had to be thought out and we very much enjoyed working with Krepel in doing just that. And with a stylish result!”, Michiel says. “For example, the bottle had to be easily removable, yet remain secured in the packaging when held at an angle,” explains Antoon Pelgrim. He is a sales manager at Krepel and worked closely with Michiel. “The solution turned out to be a subtle wooden insert that keeps the shape of the packaging intact. This insert stays in place thanks to a magnet of exactly the right strength. We’ve placed foam on the inside to protect the wax cap of the bottle against any possible damage. Everything revolves around the presentation of the bottle, but the bottle must also be pristine once out of the packaging. In addition, we’ve looked at how we can develop the most appealing packaging for each market whilst still working with an identical basis. For example, the stamps for the Chinese market have not been moulded, but printed with gold foil.”