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8 Things You Didn’t Know About Berry Brothers & Rudd

Berry Brothers & Rudd is the oldest independent bottler in the UK, with roots dating back to 1698. From its premises at No.3 St James’s Street, London, the firm has been supplying fine wine and spirits to the public for centuries. The company is, therefore, steeped in history and whimsical fun facts.

If you are a scotch whisky fan, then chances are you know Berry Bros for bottlings such as the Berry Brothers & Rudd Glenrothes 1970 Single Cask and the astonishingly old and rare Highland Park 1902.

However, there is much more to know about this long-established London fixture. Here are some facts about Berry Brothers & Rudd that you might not know.

1. We only know the founder’s last name

The company was not given the name Berry Brothers & Rudd until the 1940s. When it started in 1698, nobody called Berry or Rudd worked there.

The company was created by a woman with the last name Bourne, in 1698. Her first name is not known and, in Berry Bros’ history, she is affectionately known as Widow Bourne.

A widowed mother of two girls, Widow Bourne opened a grocers on St James’s Street in London.

Over three centuries later, Berry Brothers & Rudd is an internationally recognized and renowned firm, bottling and distributing high-class wines and spirits.

2. People loved to be weighed there

In the latter half of the 18th century, Berry Brothers & Rudd became very famous in London for being the place to get weighed.

The grocer’s weighing scales were used by nobility to weigh themselves, something that became very fashionable and drove customers into the shop.

Some of the most famous patrons to have been weighed at No.3 St James’s Street are Lord Byron, Aga Khan, and even some royal princes.

3. Berry Brothers & Rudd has been given three Royal Warrants over its lifetime

Edward VII

Speaking of royalty, Berry Brothers & Rudd is well-regarded by the royal family. The firm received its first Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1903 from Edward VII.

Since then, it has been awarded two more: one by Elizabeth II in 1952, and another from then-Prince of Wales, Charles III, in 1998.

Royal Warrants are issued to a business that supplies goods and/or services to the royal family. The first scotch whisky royal warrant was given to Royal Brackla in 1833 by King William IV.

4. The Berrys only came on board in the 19th century

Whilst the descendants of the Berrys ran the shop since its founding, the first ‘Berry’ by name did not begin to work at the firm until 1803. His name was George Berry, a grandson of John Clarke, who was brought into the business by a grandson of Widow Bourne.

The Rudds did not join the company until 1920 with the arrival of Hugh Rudd.

As such, the company has only been known by its current name since the 1940s.

5. Napoleon III was a noted visitor

Napoleon III, France’s last monarch, found himself in exile from his home country from 1836 to 1840 and lived in London during this time. Accounts from the time say that Napoleon III would use the cellars at No.3 to host secret meetings, in the hope of returning to France and seizing power once again. There is a Napoleon Cellar at No.3 St James’s Street named for him.

6. Berry Brothers & Rudd created Cutty Sark

In the early 1920s, and the beginning of US prohibition, Berry Brothers & Rudd saw an opportunity to create a blended whisky for the American market.

The whisky was a great success and a large quantity was smuggled into the USA throughout the prohibition. When this was lifted, Cutty Sark was an established and popular brand that saw record sales across the world.

7. The premises is still at No.3 St James’s Street, London

St James’s Palace, London

St James’s Street might be right at the heart of London today, but that was not always the case.

In fact, St James’s Street was not occupied until the 1660s, following the construction of St James’s Square. It was in number 3 that Widow Bourne lived and decided to set up shop in 1698.

Over 300 years later, No.3 St James’s Street is synonymous with Berry Brothers & Rudd. The premises houses some historic artifacts including the original grocer’s scales and the book containing the weights of customers who came to pass an afternoon.

The shop is located just over the street from St James’s Palace, built by Henry VIII between 1531 and 1536. Buckingham Palace, built between 1703 and 1705, is also located nearby, adding to the number of beautiful and historic buildings in the center of London.

8. The company has bottled some iconic single malts…

Berry Brothers & Rudd has bottled a huge number of single malt scotch whiskies over the years, many of which are very highly sought after at auction.

The most iconic Berry Brothers & Rudd bottlings include this Talisker 1937 and this Highland Park distilled in 1902.

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Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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