Two traditional West Midlands industries have joined forces to provide the crowning glory for Johnnie Walker's Blue Label Scotch Whisky.
The distiller describes its products as "the epitome of the art of blending" but it was the combined talents of two metal-bashing companies that put a gold seal on its famous blue bottle.
When it came to ensuring the quality of the intricately designed zinc component for the stopper, the Manufacturing Advisory Service West Midlands was able to recommend Birmingham's St Pauls Mint as the supplier with the skills and background to provide the expertise needed to finish the job.
Die casters Norfran Products, based at Alveley Industrial Estate in Bridgnorth, were commissioned by cork makers Rankin Brothers to supply a specially decorated zinc top for a limited edition run of Blue Label aimed at the middle and far eastern market, that could amount to around 360,000 units.
The ongoing contract could be worth an estimated £1.2 million and is expected to maintain current employment levels at Norfran which has 68 staff.
Phil Hall, Norfran's quality manager, said: "The most difficult part of it is a continuous leaf pattern around the outside, which was outside the constraints of the tooling. But the biggest problem was the numbers required.
"We spoke to Cecilia Davies, the specialist sourcing adviser from MAS-WM, who after much research and networking identified St Paul's Mint in Birmingham."
With components sitting on top of a limited edition blend worth $750 per bottle, quality constraints were tight and tolerances were extremely demanding.
The size, shape and design were all critical with a competitive unit cost for each stopper.
Mr Hall said: "The leaf patterns have to be to the same depth, with the tolerances very tight. We're talking between 52.97mm and 53.00mm for each part.
"They have to be machined and coined before being polished, copper plated, nickel plated, gold plated and then sealed with a clear lacquer to increase the scratch resistance."
Kevin Binnion, production director at St Pauls Mint, realised that engraving the stopper was not an option because of time constraints.
Stamping, or coining was the only solution for the company, which employs nine people at its base in Aston.
"With our background in the coining industry, we developed a tool for Norfran that could put the design on the side.
"But even then, the specially developed three-part coining tool was only part of the process because, as we discovered, the zinc had a tendency to shrink in the cold, which meant the coined design could have been of an inconsistent depth, compromising the quality."
"We built a belt oven into the process to keep the zinc components at a steady temperature, and therefore size, which overcame the problem.
"My experience over all these years was never in this metal. I had worked with many different materials but I had never experienced anything like this before. It was a challenge, but we succeeded, so that was good. It really is an interesting component."