Bright Ideas: Bottle Engraving

ArticlesBright Ideas

Carl Evans

Saxty’s Wines, Hereford


In a nutshell: Make it personal for customers. Whether it’s a large corporate order requiring multiple logos and bespoke labelling, wedding favours or the simple addition of a birthday message to a bottle of Champagne, engraving is a service guaranteed to give you an edge.

Tell us more …
“We’ve been doing engraving for a few years as we’ve got quite a large independent corporate side and we used to outsource it. But the lead times got longer and longer, and the prices crept up a little bit, so we thought we’d take the plunge and move it in-house.

“It has made it more cost effective and efficient and a smoother service for everyone. The turnaround time could take weeks when we were using a third party, whereas now I can engrave a straightforward ‘happy birthday’ in 10-15 minutes, not a problem.”

Did the machine cost a lot to set up?
“It was an expensive outlay but we projected it would pay for itself in 18 months. It’s been just over a year and we’re definitely on track. We charge a flat rate of £10 per engraving. We went for the highest spec we could get and the company that we used were really good because they came in and did training with us.

“It’s not huge, but it’s the size of an old-fashioned fax machine. It’s really heavy, it took quite a few of us to get it in, so I don’t think it will be moving anytime soon.”

Quite the kit. What does it do, exactly?
“It allows us to engrave onto the bottle and onto gift boxes, and other glassware and labels too. If you’re doing simple text then you don’t have to be particularly arty. We’ve been doing custom labels and bespoke engravings for a while and we do all the designs in house. We have a few people here who have developed their skills with graphic design tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. You’re not engraving by hand. You do it all on computer and push it over to the engraving machine, so it’s quite simple. The more you use it, the easier it is and you learn which engraving works best depending on the thickness of the bottle. There are little tricks you learn as you go.”

Is it mostly bottles of Champagne you get asked to personalise?
“It’s a wide spectrum of drinks, really. It’s normally Champagne for celebratory things like a birthday or general congratulations messages, but we’re finding with vintage port, people might want to buy a bottle for their godson and engrave their date of birth with the intention that they keep it for their 21st. It’s the same with whisky, and a lot of companies ask us to do gins and non-alcoholic drinks too as they want to cater for everyone.”

How have you advertised it?
“We’ve put it on social media and as an option online and that’s really popular. Especially when most online retailers have got roughly the same products at roughly the same price, by offering something a little bit different, we’ve found the customers really enjoy that and we’re getting repeat business from it, which is great. We’ve also got sample bottles with ‘engrave me’ on them dotted around in-store.”

Have you been asked to engrave anything unusual?
“Some people ask us to write certain rude things on there, just like on occasion we get asked to put in a bit of a cheeky message with an online order. We’ve had people ask us to engrave pictures onto bottles, which we can do and have done successfully – it depends what the image is like.”


Carl wins a WBC gift box containing some premium drinks and a box of chocolates.

Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for you and you too could win a prize. Email



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