Cofounders and longtime friends Jesse Falowitz and Teppei Kono shared a passion for shochu, Japan's national distilled alcohol. In the early 2000's, shochu sales in Japan had surpassed those of sake and shochu was a growing trend among a younger generation of Japanese drinkers. Baffled by how an entire category of some of the world's finest and most unique handcrafted spirits brands could be so popular in Japan and yet so overlooked and off the radar in Western markets, they were inspired to bring authentic, craft shochu to the world.
Mizu Shochu is handcrafted and single distilled in the traditional Japanese way and follows the honkau style of production, meaning genuine, authentic shochu. These original methods of shochu production date back to the 16th century and Mizu Shochu is proudly keeping them alive in Kyushu, Japan, in the small town of Artia. The master distillers maintain the tradition of a higher alcohol shochu in appreciation of the past and the purity of their locally sourced ingredients. This style of shochu better expresses the quality and depth of the genshu, the undiluted heart of the spirit, and offers greater versatility for a variety of drinking methods and occasions.
We love a brand with a story and legacy, and what could be better than when a brand’s label is able to visually tell part of that story? The labels for the varieties of Mizu Shochu accomplish that beautifully, while also communicating that the product is something truly special.
They start with a delicately textured matte black base, with mostly white font to share the ingredients, a bit about their tradition, and health information. There are a few elements in eye-catching colors that correspond to the variety of shochu, like a deep red for Saga Barley. The design is sophisticated and minimalistic, with Japanese characters included to give a sense of the spirit of the beverage. But Mizu Shochu takes it a few steps further, adding hot stamped elements, selective gloss, and back printing to emphasize their roots and the purity of their brand.
Sprawling across the label is a beautiful crane in flight, printed not in color, but with a selective gloss varnish that creates an understated yet powerful feel. It is evocative of the good fortune and longevity associated with this alluring creature that is so meaningful to Japanese culture. The crane reconnects the label and the product with the tradition from which it is based. Four vertical Japanese characters and the brand iconography are hot stamped in bright silver. The label also uses back-printing, so that a swirling arabesque pattern is visible through clear product, communicating the company’s intentionality in design.
When asked about the biggest challenge of this project, Jesse told us that “The subtle nuances of typefaces and typography in foreign characters required quite a bit of guidance and direction, and also lead to some debate between the Japanese and the non-Japanese members of the design team. We wanted to maintain authenticity and high appeal to our Japanese audience so their preferences had to be prioritized and worked into the design.”
The components of this label incorporate the best of high decoration printing techniques. They also manage to evoke the intersection of the simple with the refined, mirroring the mingling of the ancient process by which Mizu Shochu is crafted, the pure simplicity of its ingredients, and the artistry demonstrated in its production.
If you’re interested in discovering more about the various high decoration printing capabilities we have at Dion Label printing, read our blog on the subject here. If you have a brand story you want your label to tell contact us today to find out how we can help!