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Berry Bros. & Rudd

Berry Bros. & Rudd

Founded in 1698, Berry Bros. & Rudd are the oldest wine and spirits company in London, founded at No.3 St. James’s Street. Originally a grocer and coffee merchant, they have also been known for their quality wines and spirits for hundreds of years. They have their own range of fruit liqueurs, independently-selected single malts and various spirits in their portfolio, focusing on classic flavors and expressions to stand the test of time. Their business headquarters are still at the same address as they were in the 17th Century, a testament to their enduring charm and dedication to history. 

Visit Berry Bros. & Rudd: 63 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5HZ

Opening Hours from 15th July 2020: Tuesday to Saturday: 10am to 6pm, Saturday: 10am to 5pm. Sunday, Monday and Public Holidays: Closed

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300 Years of History 

Spanning over three centuries of history, not much is known about the beginnings of the company we know today as Berry Bros. & Rudd. We do know it was founded in 1698, and that the founder was a woman known only as Widow Bourne. Her grocery store was established in a wealthy neighborhood opposite St. James’s Palace and within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, a location as prestigious today as it was then. 

With only two daughters to inherit her, the business was passed on to Widow Bourne’s daughter Elizabeth and her husband William Pickering, a merchant who supplied ground coffee beans to coffee houses - a new trend at the time. Their logo, a coffee mill, is still found on the Berry Bros. & Rudd shop front at No.3 St. James’s Street to this day. It’s not the only thing to remain unchanged; much of the shop, often referred to as simply ‘No. 3’, has been left the way it was in the 18th Century. 

After the death of her husband, Elizabeth Pickering continued running the shop, until her sons took over. Eventually, William Pickering Jr. brought in John Clarke, a distant relative, as a business partner. In turn, his grandson George Berry joined the business as a teenager in 1803, eventually getting his name placed above the door in 1810. It was George who really expanded the store’s selection of wine and spirits, and when his sons George Jr and Henry - known as the Berry Brothers - took over, the business was slowly moving away from being a coffee merchant. 

While rooted firmly in London, George Berry had an unusual connection to France: his close friend and fellow special constable during the Chartist Riots of 1838 was none other than Napoleon III. During his exile in the United Kingdom, Napoleon held meetings in the cellars of No.3, relying on his friend for protection. 

The 20th Century

Throughout the years, the Berry Brothers business was passed down from generation to generation, with the brothers handing it down to a son each. In this way, cousins within the Berry family continued working together until the last of Henry Berry’s descendants retired in 1941. At this point, the former coffee merchant had become a wine and spirits merchant exclusively. With this, they required new skills and knowledge: enter Hugh Rudd, a wine merchant with extensive experience working in Europe among the vineyards of Bordeaux and Germany. Hugh joined the Berry Brothers in 1920, a partnership that was to change the business forever. 

In the 1940s the shop became a limited company, and as Hugh Rudd was an essential part of the team, it was only natural for the firm to become Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd. While No.3 has sustained some damage through the years - particularly from bombs dropped nearby during the Blitz - it has kept its features. The old bomb shutters have also come in handy since, such as during the London Riots of 2011. 

World War II brought losses to the family, which led to Francis Berry’s younger son, Anthony, unexpectedly becoming a partner in the business, while the widow of Hugh Rudd, Ethel Rudd, took over as Non-Executive Chairman from 1949. Unlike their contemporaries in London, the family did not sell or dismantle the business but instead continued bringing in new talent. The success of their single malt blend Cutty Sark helped them through tough times, and they also became famous for their Claret and Burgundy, much of it sold to families that have frequented the shop for generations. 

In 1994, Berry Bros. & Rudd decided to move with the times and turned their successful mail-order business into the very first wine merchant’s website. This was followed by wine shops opened at Heathrow Airport, the Hong Kong Wine Club and their first overseas shop in Dublin. In 1998, Berry Bros. & Rudd celebrated their 300th anniversary with the award of a second Royal Warrant by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.

Berry Bros. & Rudd Today

Despite their Royal Warrants, long history and prestigious employees, Berry Bros. & Rudd remain true to their roots. All spirits lovers, new or old, are sure to find something to love among their collection. And with every bottling they create, whether it’s a wine, a fruit liqueur or a smoky whisky, only one thing matters: “is it good to drink?”

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