Ever wondered from where the humble cork came from? Naturally from the cork oak. However, the cork oak originated in the Tertiary period (between the Oligocene and Miocene periods). Some theories point to its existence since the formation of the Mediterranean basin, about 60 million years ago. Several species succumbed to the glacial period. The cork oak resisted, however, thanks to the thermal protection of its bark – the cork.
The cork stopper was initially made from rectangular blocks of cork with the desired final length. This was the method used until the appearance of the Garlopa machine in the twentieth century, the first industrial cork stopper production machine. The rectangular cork block was placed in a clamp which, upon applying light pressure, activated a worm screw which in turn rotated the block against a blade, producing cylindrical corks.
In the 20th century, Cork is used for various military purposes in World War II. In the 1950s the first agglomerated cork tiles with vinyl film appear on the market. This is the time when Cork Oak Legislation took its current shape of preservation and management. In the 1990s patents were registered for the use of cork in transmission belts and tyres. In recent decades Confédération Européenne du Liège was created as well as the International Code for Cork Stopper Manufacturing Practices (quality control for cork stopper production).
The cork oak is native to the Western Mediterranean Basin, where there are ideal growing conditions:
• Sandy, chalk-free soils with low nitrogen and phosphorus content, high potassium level and pH from 4.8 to 7.0
• Rainfall from 400-800 mm per year
• Temperature from -5º C to 40º C
• Altitude of 100-300 m.
The life cycle of cork as a raw material begins when it is stripped: when the tree is 25 years old and the trunk circumference reaches 70 cm when measured 1.3 metres from the ground. Subsequent strippings take place at intervals of at least nine years, between the months of May and August. It is essential after stripping to leave the cork outdoors in order to obtain its perfect maturation and stabilisation.
The Amorim Group is currently the undisputed leader in the cork industry worldwide, contributing like no other player to sustainability and innovation in the sector. The Group has focused, guided by a visionof sustained growth, on diversifying its operations by investing in industries and geographical areas with high potential for profitability.
It began a process of vertical integration of the cork business and internationalisation of the business activities in the 1960s. Under the slogan “not a single market, nor a single client, nor a single currency, nor one single product,” the Amorim Group crossed risky geographical boundaries and constraints for the time, in order to present cork to the four corners of the world. In this communion of Man and Nature, Cork and Wine since 1870, when it started manufacturing cork stoppers for the wine industry. Thee journay has been long and exciting with various new innovations.
Natural Cork Stopper: It is 100% natural, enhanced by cutting-edge technology, the natural cork stopper is a guarantee that the wine will mature in the best conditions!
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cork Stopper: The champagne cork stopper has evolved into its final form since Dom Pérignon first recognised in it all the virtues he sought for his wines. It comprises a main body of agglomerated cork with two discs of natural cork at either end that remain in contact with the wine.
Neutro Cork: It has been developed using cutting edge technology, and offers great structural stability resulting from its composition: micro cork granules of uniform size.
Top Series Cork Stopper: Capsulated natural cork stopper that combines the high technical and environmental performance of natural cork with a distinctive design. Available for four different market segments, the Top Series® has the most varied range of appearance options. It is recommended for the most prestigious beverages: the Prestige range uses innovative and luxurious materials, the Elegance range is complemented by ceramic, wood and metals, the Premium range can be customized with logos, shapes and materials; the Classic Value range is designed according to the specifications of each client, allowing colours and moulds to be worked separately.
High-end premium Irish whiskies have increased sales by 589% since 2002, according to DISCUS, while the super-premium Irish whiskey segment has expanded 3,054% in the same period. In the case of single malt Scotch whiskies, leading premium whisky brands – such as The Glenlivet, The Macallan, Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, The Balvenie and Laphroaig – consistently use cork capsulated stoppers. This trend has been further powered by the increasing number of craft distilleries, the vast majority of which use cork stoppers. The numbers speak for themselves – while there were 109 independent distilleries operating in the U.S. in 2010, there are more than 700 in operation today.
Amorim TopSeries has been able to capitalize on this premiumisation trend in the whisky trade, given its in-depth knowledge of its clients’ requirements, local presence in key markets, use of more noble, ecologically-friendly materials, and its one-stop-shop approach that ensures that the stoppers’ design is tailored to the clients’ overall packaging objectives.