Here’s the point: we like plants! As people who have dedicated their life to extracting essence from plants to put them in a bottle and consequently make a living from it, that statement comes as a small wonder. However, the story about plants and Luftbremzer Gin doesn’t stop at that... oh no, no! It expands from the merely liquid (the gin) to the packaging concept. And that’s where the beautiful magic happens also. Let’s talk a bit more about that amazing tree and the material that ennobles our productby giving us such alluring bottle stoppers – the cork oak.
From nature with love
Cork oak is a medium-sized, evergreen tree that grows in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. The peculiarity of the species is of course in its bark properties. It is elastic and impermeable, a perfect material for bottle stoppers. Namely, it takes about 25 years for a cork tree to grow about 60 centimetres in circumference. Its bark (the cork) is then ready to be harvested for the first time. However, the yield of the first harvest is of poor quality and is used for making floors, shoe insoles, insulation and other stuff that is out of scope of this post. If you want us to write about making shoes from the cork, it ain’t gonna happen.
Sustainable is beautiful
Cork collected in harvests after the first one is suitable for making high quality stoppers we use. The time span required for a tree to grow a cork thick enough for another harvest ranges from 9 to 13 years and the random cork oak tree lives over a hundred years. Such harmless production in addition to the fact that the recycling of cork and its by-products is easy, make the cork industry extremely sustainable and environmentally friendly. That sustainability is the single main reason why Luftbremzer Distillery uses only cork stoppers to bottle their spirits.
Diligent workers who specialize in cork removal are called extractors. They use a special kind of axe to manually remove the cork from the tree. It takes a great amount of strength to do that as well as experience and precision in order to avoid damaging the inner part of the tree which can seriously hurt or even kill this precious timber. So, cheers to those lovely people! The bulks of bark are usually carried off by hand to the processors, since the cork forests are rarely approachable by vehicle.
While designing our stoppers we were guided by sustainability, effectiveness, user experience and visual appearance. In order for a stopper to seal a bottle appropriately on one hand, and that it can be easily popped out without being broken on the other, we worked closely with our Portuguese manufacturing partners to fine-tune the stopper diameter to fit perfectly into our bottle. A close attention has been paid to the stopper head dimensions also, so it could look proportional to our recycled apothecary bottle, and at the same time to be big enough to fit firmly in the hand while opening. In order to prevent colouring of our gin in bottle, every stopper is chemically treated to be chemically inert and fit to seal high-proof colourless spirits. We have taught of everything.
The final thoughts were put into stoppers branding, or absence of it to put it more precisely. Since every piece is different, all natural and so much work has been put into every stopper so far, the decision was that any logo or typography would just take away the observers’ focus from what’s really important, and that’s the whole story and the true value behind this beautiful and amazing natural material.