• By Bhavesh Parmar
  • In Review

The lifestyle blog "Five Heads" took a look at SWIG:

I have never owned a hip flask. Not because I don’t like them, I do. I don’t even dislike the idea of using one.

For me, they have always been an item that belonged to those confident enough in their own style that pulling out a shiny, hidden flask and irreverently drinking alcohol in public looked awesome rather than simply the actions of a drunk or a homeless person. I have never been one of those people. Instead I have always been quite happy seeking my booze kicks from proper establishments or from the comfort of my own home.

But then I was presented with an unassuming little black box at Five Heads HQ with the word SWIG stamped low and in bold, red letters.

Obviously I was immediately intrigued because of course, as we all know, good things come in small packages. And when they come in small packages designed to give you absolutely no clue what is inside, your expectation levels rise just that little bit more.

As it turns out I must harbour a deeper longing to own a hip flask than I originally thought, because upon first opening that little black box and seeing what was inside I let out an admiring ‘ooh’, followed by a revealing, ‘this looks fucking sweet’.

Inside was a flask from new hip flask-maker, SWIG, who have been busy making waves in the drinks market since 2013. This one was from their Executive range and first impressions were great.

Let’s start with presentation. On their website, the makers reveal that their mission “is to transform the humble hipflask from a ‘standard’ commodity item into a highly exclusive, treasured, luxury product suitable for premium gifting.”

And they have not done too badly. In fact from the off you are under no illusions that you are dealing with a high-end product.

In its box, the flask sits on a deep red cushion that seems softer than your own pillow (I tried it), while the paisley pattern design of the fabric lining evokes images of those exclusive gentleman’s clubs you see in BBC political dramas.

As for product itself, the first thing you notice is the “high-end veg tan” leather case that, according to their marketing spiel, has been “’wet moulded’ by leather artisans based in the Spanish town of Ubrique”.  It covers the majority of the flask, stopping just short of the rounded corners at the top and just below a unique five-digit number (mine’s 03753) that is engraved on the back. Note how this is all adding to that exclusive, executive feel.

Now this number, rather than simply being an interesting little extra feature denoting where you are in the ‘early adopter’ queue, actually serves another purpose. With that number, each owner is eligible to join SWIG’s ‘exclusive’ (again) online club that boasts bespoke benefits such as thought-leadership – whatever that is – and insider reviews on quality spirits.

Jury’s out on that one for me. I like the flask, not sure I really have the time or the inclination to have my thoughts led or to read up on the latest whisky brands. But that might just be me.

So – back to the leather. It is certainly premium quality and although at first drawing divisive opinions as to the colour – ours was a vivid blue with white stitching – it actually works really well and it makes a nice change from the more traditional choices. In the hand the flask feels comfortable thanks to its well-designed curved shape, while the case has a bonus practical feature in that it helps with grip and making it generally easier to hold.

Overall, then, the look and feel of it is spot on. But this wouldn’t be a proper road test if I didn’t take it to a festival and get fucked. Immediately, what I liked was the size of it. At 170ml you can get a decent quantity of booze in there – around four to five shots according to SWIG – which is certainly a good amount and with festival prices being what they are, it was definitely  a good thing when it came to spicing up those cheaper soft drinks.

Topped to the brim, it did feel a bit of a lump to carry around over the course of a day; however the curved shape again worked in its favour allowing it to fit comfortably in regular pockets. Over time, once you’re used to it, it becomes barely noticeable.

Another feature I was pleased with was that the modern design worked well in removing any pretence and instead of feeling like a twat, I found myself reaching to my pocket for a crafty top-up on a regular basis.

One thing I would have liked to have seen, though, is a captive top – the arm that connects the lid to the flask – just to help with those moments when you begin suffering from tipsy-induced losses of dexterity. But that’s only a small issue and, it must be said, there are other ranges within the SWIG catalogue that do have it.

Ultimately this is a great product. It’s modern, well designed, well made and its aesthetic manages to provide the experience and benefits of owning a hip flask without making you look like a complete twat.

So SWIG, would I buy one? Well, no, is the answer. Despite such a positive experience, the inclination still isn’t there to actually go about searching one out and offering up my hard-earned cash – £89.00 of it if I went for this Executive option.

But would I want someone to buy one for me as a gift? Yes, so much. It’s great, and ultimately SWIG have managed to do what they set out to:

They have created a flask that is not meant to be bought. It is meant to be gifted.


To read more on "Five Heads" click here. 

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