Bottle battle as Leith’s Lind & Lime blasts Brewdog’s ‘knock-off’ design

IAN Stirling, co-founder of Edinburgh’s  Lind & Lime Gin, was reportedly ‘absolutely furious’ at Scottish brewers BrewDog over a bottle design that he reckons is painfully similar to his company’s signature style.

This month sees BrewDog – which made its name as a disruptor on the craft beer market – make its first foray into tequila, with the release of Casa Rayos, produced in collaboration with Mexico’s Orendain family.

This new liquid has been bottled by BrewDog in an azure-tinted bottle with a leafy design that is said to pay homage to the agave plant.

However, that bottle bears more than a passing resemblance to Lind & Lime’s distinctive gin bottle, which has won the Leith company design awards and been credited with helping them stand out in a crowded marketplace.

“First, I thought Lind & Lime Gin was on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch over the weekend,” said Stirling, in a Monday morning statement to the trade press.

Lind & Lime Gin’s Ian Stirling

“Then I realised it wasn’t Lind & Lime. It’s a knock-off. Finally, I discovered it’s a tequila bottled by a fellow Scottish company called BrewDog. And that really ruined my weekend.

“I know we are all inspired to some extent by other brands, but this crosses that line with two middle fingers waving merrily in the air,” said Stirling. “They knew we’d notice, but simply don’t care because they’re a massive company and we’re not.

“The Scottish drinks industry is an incredibly friendly, collaborative space. We all have many other challenges to deal with and we shouldn’t be doing this to each other.”

Shortly after Stirling issued his broadside at BrewDog, the founder of London-based tequila brand El Rayo spoke up about the similarity between his brand’s name, and BrewDog’s Casa Rayos.

El Rayo’s Jack Verecker said:

“Creating an independent spirit is hard enough, but with tactics like these from massive companies, it makes our job even harder.

“It’s taken us years to build up the El Rayo brand name and distribution and, unlike Brewdog, we don’t have the budgets to buy our way onto shelves or into bars.

“I liked Brewdog, (I even invested in them!) and felt that up until recently they generated often unwarranted negative press,” he said. “Those opinions, as is hopefully obvious, have now changed significantly. If anyone is looking to buy any Brewdog shares at a significant discount then please get in touch.”

However, BrewDog managing director Steve Kersley has since issued a statement on his social media insisting that the Casa Rayon project had ‘took no creative cues from any other brands’.

“This week Casa Rayos was born, and the positivity’s been touching from those who have tasted it,” said Kersley. “However yesterday morning via LinkedIn we found out that our new branding hadn’t been as well received as we had hoped, by some.

“This was down to a contention that we’d deliberately pinched our bottle design from Ian and the good guys at Port of Leith Distillery, specifically the bottle design of their brilliant Lind and Lime gin.

“Now here’s the bit where you spit out the breakfast, spray the coffee and call me untruthful. Martin and I genuinely, truthfully, didn’t draw any design connections at any stage of the creative development with L&L and I’d go a step further and say, on reflection, now having had time to look at the bottles next to each other – the bottles are significantly different.

“With sincerity, Martin, our creative team and I took no creative cues from any other brands and we’re so proud of everything that this tequila is and what it will become. I hope soon we can have a few G&T’s or T&Ts at the POL Distillery bar in Leith, it looks phenomenal. I wish Ian, Paddy, Samuel and the team all the best for what they’re about to achieve,” concluded Kersley.

Last November, BrewDog were called to task by another independent Scottish company, Jump Ship Brewing, over its use of the beer name ‘Shore Leave’.

Low-alcohol producer Jump Ship had already enjoyed considerable success with its Shore Leave low-alc IPA, launched in 2022, when BrewDog shared an image online of a soon-to-launch beer branded as ‘Shore Leave’, with the proposed tagline ‘It’s time to jump ship’.

Sonja Mitchell

Jump Ship founder, Sonja Mitchell, threatened legal action against the multi-national: “We have put considerable investment into the development of our Shore Leave series of beers – from the creation of the beer itself to the branding, packaging and distribution. We cannot afford to lose that.”