Berry Bros & Rudd

The company

As the oldest wine and spirits merchant in the UK, the company has a long and colourful history. It has operated from the same headquarters on James's Street in London since 1698, although today it also has branches in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Initially, the London site was a grocery shop founded in the late 17th century by a woman known only as 'Widow Bourne'. The location was favourable for the business as it was directly opposite St James's Palace, the home of the monarch at the time, in a very wealthy area. The widow Bourne's daughter, Elisabeth, married the businessman William Pickering and the two built up the shop into a successful grocery business. In particular, they traded in coffee and supplied the local coffee houses. William Jr, the couple's son, continued the trade with his business partner John Clarke. The famous 'Berry Brothers', who gave the company its name, which is still used today, were the great-grandsons of John, George and Henry Berry. The Berry Brothers took over the business in 1845 and even then focussed on wine and spirits, also offering the first independent whisky bottlings under their own name. Their great cousins, Francis and Charles Walter Berry, continued to run Berry Bros & Co into the 20th century. They developed the focus even further away from coffee and food and increasingly towards wine and spirits.

In the 20th century, the company struggled, not least because of the First World War. Hugh Rudd, an accomplished wine merchant from Norwich, joined the two Berry brothers in 1920 and at the same time the business began to flourish. Prohibition in the USA (1919-1933) increased the demand for Scotch whisky. The Cutty Sark blend, launched in 1923, became particularly popular in the States and the rest of the world. The whisky named after the famous clipper is now produced by the French spirits group La Martiniquaise. In 1940, the three merchants officially renamed their company Berry Bros & Rudd. After the Second World War was over, Berry Bros. & Rudd began its strong rise in the 1950s. At this time, the company was managed not only by the descendants of the three namesakes but also by externally hired businessmen. The team succeeded in building up a large customer base and a mail order business. In the 1990s, Berry Bros & Rudd was one of the first wine and spirits companies to launch an online mail order business in the UK. At the same time, the company expanded rapidly and opened further branches in Heathrow (Duty Free Shop) and Asia (Hong Kong Wine Club). Since the 2000s, Berry Bros & Rudd has also rented out its own wine cellars as event rooms and runs its own wine academy. In 2010, Berry Bros & Rudd sold the Cutty Sark brand to the Edrington Group and took over the Glenrothes distillery in return. This was then returned to the Edrington Group in 2017.

The range

In their Own Selection, the independent bottlers release single casks from Scottish distilleries as well as blended malts that capture the character of certain whisky regions, such as Speyside or Islay. There are also bottling series such as the Perspective Series, which combines special whiskies and special photographs, and the Exceptional Casks, which contains particularly old whiskies (up to 50 years old!).