Back Story: Neil Summerour began working on Scotch three years ago as an outlet for his own creativity while creating bespoke and custom alphabets for clients at Positype, the foundry he established in 2000. This latest release branches off the historical roots of the transitional-style Scotch Roman (or just Scotch) typefaces popular in England during the early nineteenth century. Named after the Scotch foundries of Alexander Wilson in Glasgow and William Miller in Edinburgh, who were responsible for the first versions, these letterforms feature strong contrast, vertical stress, and bracketed serifs.
Legendary type designer Matthew Carter’s Miller, a Scotch revival released in 1997, is both well-known and well-loved, so Summerour knew he needed to find a good hook to set his effort apart. “My biggest focus was how to produce something unique and wholly my own while addressing current, contemporary needs,” says the designer.
Why’s it called Scotch? Summerour couldn’t resist calling a Scotch a Scotch, given the wealth of design (and promotional) possibilities linking the typeface’s name both to its classification and the popular adult beverage. He says, “I decided on the name even before I drew the first letter—that was easy.”
What are its distinguishing characteristics? The designer found most Scotch faces too soft and subdued in mass, so his angle of attack was to distill the letterforms into a more simplified, crisp, and deliberate architecture. The ultra-high-contrast display weight is a thing of beauty, especially the italics. Ampersands across the board display the flair typical of this character within Scotch Romans, plus a dose of tipsy, flirtatious charm all their own. Summerour designed three distinct optical styles (Text, Deck, and Display) across 30 fonts—and a dingbats font, full of shapes and characters, just for fun. Wait, tell us more about the dingbats! “Yeah, I had to,” Summerour admits. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to draw the first-ever ‘dramicule’ (credit to Mark Bixby for coining the term), along with snifters, highball glasses, round and square ice cubes…and of course arrows, fleurons, and more.” (For the uninitiated: the dramicule takes its name after the dram, a measure for a small pour of whisky or liquor.)
Scotch the typeface made its formal debut at a private Scotch-tasting event in Boston during TypeCon last August, where guests sampled six single malts while learning about the subtleties of each. Foundries take note: liquor-based type launches should become an industry standard, and very soon.
What should I use it for? Positype’s Scotch typeface families are purposely drawn to produce a modern, youthful, and energetic serif style for screen and print—for use anytime you want a serif face that conveys a feeling of warmth and self-assurance. No need to use it in moderation, either.
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? The designer likes to match it with Aago, another Positype face. It also looks oddly great in combination with FF DIN. You also might try it with an after-dinner drink.