To leverage both the global phenomenon of Game of Thrones and the growing popularity of single malt Scotch, Diageo and HBO sought to tap the spirits maker’s extensive portfolio of rare Scotch whiskies to develop a product line that would resonate with show fanatics and single malt connoisseurs alike. That’s when they brought Bulldog Drummond in. As huge fans of the show ourselves, we could not have been more excited for the opportunity to partner in this iconic collaboration.
To kick off the project, we explored concepts that brought a range of storylines and characters to life in varying levels of complexities, ultimately landing on one that highlights the most prominent Houses of Westeros and their stories of intrigue, greed and triumph. Each House was strategically paired with a corresponding single malt from Diageo’s portfolio, connecting the liquid’s flavor notes and the distillery’s history and location to the House’s characters, themes and narratives. Inspired by the unique sigils for each House, we partnered with HBO concept artists to create custom illustrations to bring the concept to life. The result of which can be seen prominently featured on the front of both the bottles and canisters.
“Bulldog is one of our go-to, long-term innovation partners for new-to-world brands. Our collaboration with HBO and Game of Thrones has been exceptional, and the results at retail have been exceptional.”
—Jeffery Fink, VP, Creative & Innovation
With the task of creating a design system that paired the Houses of Westeros with the great distilleries of Scotland, our first step was to immerse ourselves into the world of Westeros, which included in-depth analysis of episodes, online forums, fan theories and the historical backgrounds of all the characters and lands. Next, we explored a wide range of Scottish distilleries to discover unique processes, geographical parallels, rich histories and flavor profiles. As a result, we uncovered conceptual connections that strategically influenced our pairings and directly affected our approach to design.
To honor Castle Black, we developed a blacked-out version of the label and canister with the oath of the Night’s Watch printed in bold block letters that contrasted the ivory labels of the House bottles while still creating an overall sophisticated and cohesive collection.
As we explored designs for the final collector’s chest, we created a three-dimensional, fully functional astrolabe as an homage to the show’s iconic opening credits which showcases this ancient astronomical instrument. This intricate model featured a metal sphere that opened to reveal all eight bottles in the initial collection, including a custom crystal decanter engraved with the emblems from each House.
For the true collector, we designed a limited-edition collectors’ chest made from real dark weathered wood to house the iconic single malt line. Inlaid black metal medallions featuring each House’s sigil and the Game of Thrones logo adorn the case, while the leather-lined interior reveals a detailed map of Westeros along with the nine bottles that make up the collection.
To leverage the success of the initial collection, we were asked to create one final bottle to commemorate the last season and pay homage to the final King of Westeros. Without any insight to the ending, we explored a new design that featured the same metallic gold foil to represent royalty, while still complementing the established style of the previous eight bottles. And once the final king was revealed, we incorporated the custom illustration of the Three-Eyed Raven to complete the design.