Pentagram has designed the identity, packaging and print collateral for a Japanese whiskey called Kikori. The name Kikori, which was developed by the Pentagram team, means “woodsman” in Japanese and was inspired by the lush forests that surround the distillery in Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan, where the whiskey is made.
In addition to a spare, all-caps word mark, the designers created a traditional Japanese symbol for Kikori featuring an image of a woodsman with an axe slung over his shoulder and carrying a lantern. The mark references Visu the woodsman, the stubborn protagonist in a cautionary Japanese folk tale about life without balance. Working day and night, Visu forsakes his family and friends. When advised to seek his spirit, he abandons his work and drifts even further from his family. Eventually he loses everything.
Visu’s morality tale, which resonates in our fast paced lives, captures the essence of Kikori’s philosophy, one that values balance in all things—family, work, play and spirituality. The story of Visu is also the perfect metaphor for the smooth drinkability and balanced flavor of Kikori’s brand of rice whiskey, which can be enjoyed neat, over ice or blended into cocktails.
The designers set the folk tale of Visu in kanji on the inside of the back label. When viewed through the clear glass from the front of the bottle the large-point Japanese characters infuse the golden colored spirit with the story of the wandering woodsman and give the packaging a distinctive signature look. The design of the bottle, anchored by a simple horizontal label with the name Kikori reversed out of black and the batch number and master distiller’s signature written out by hand, features the new woodsman icon stamped in bright green ink.
A paper bottle-wrap designed picks up the vibrant green color inspired by the forests of Japanese pines and the abundant fields of rice found in Kumamoto. The flavorful, local rice, which has been cultivated in southern Japan for over 2000 years, is the basis of Kikori’s unique style of whiskey. The nutrient rich, volcanic soil of Kyushu Island is the ideal environment to grow the nutritious rice, which is considered to be among the finest in the world. The rice and koji, mixed with the pristine ground water that runs under Kumamoto, is fermented and then distilled and aged for over three years in oak barrels. The resulting rice whiskey, a spirit familiar to Japanese consumers, will be introduced to the American market by Soh Spirits International, which was founded by Ann Soh Woods and her Husband Mel of Los Angeles, California.