Wine specialist Berry Bros & Rudd wants to remind shoppers of its history and expertise in spirits, too. Its new Pall Mall outlet has space for tastings, a huge global range and a rarities room

“The name above the door says Berry Bros & Rudd is a fine wine and spirits merchant, and while we’ve had a brilliantly curated selection of spirits, it’s not what we’re known for.” For George Turner, shop manager of Berry Bros & Rudd’s newly opened dedicated spirits shop, there’s no reason why this family owned and run business shouldn’t be as renowned for the grain as it is for the grape.

After all, this was a company responsible for the creation of the Cutty Sark brand in 1923, and which has been an independent whisky bottler for more than 100 years. More recently, it launched the No. 3 London Dry Gin and last year took a stake in The Cotswolds Distillery.

Despite this, “in the past, the spirits side of things has been overshadowed by wine”, admits BB&R COO Natalie Tennent. “But our hope is for them to be equal within our portfolio.”

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George Turner, store manager of Berry Bros & Rudd’s new spirits shop

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The new store’s design makes use of reclaimed staves from old whisky casks

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Scotch and other British spirits feature heavily on shelf

That’s the thinking that has driven BB&R to open the spirits shop – a physical home from which to showcase its reputation as a purveyor of the world’s very best in whisky, gin, tequila and everything in between.

It’s not just a hopeful punt, either. Sales of spirits at BB&R are up 42% year on year. The trend was turbocharged by lockdowns but shows no signs of abating, says Tennent. “We had a lot of people coming to us looking for rare and unique liquids to drink at home, but really wanting to understand and have the best.”

Sitting adjacent to its original London shop, which opened in 1698 at No. 3 St James’s Street, and physically linked to its retail space at 63 Pall Mall, the spirits shop aspires to showcase the best, and boasts over 1,000 products from around the world, taking in world-class whiskies and gins along with more obscure tipples.

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“We’re using our knowledge of what our existing customers want, as well as our ability to source, to come up with a range at the high end of brown spirits,” Tennent says. “There will be lighter spirits, too, and we’ll be moving into areas like sake.”

There’s also an emphasis on British products, with both scotch’s rich history and England’s burgeoning new-world whisky scene represented. “It’s not all we’ll sell, but it will take pride of place,” Tennent explains.

Spirits from further afield are well represented, too. A healthy selection of bourbon from the US adorns one wall, while a large, freestanding unit on the shop floor contains tequila and mezcal. For those looking to cut back, there’s a small selection of alcohol-free spirits featuring brands such as Everleaf, Botivo and Sentia.

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Berry Bros & Rudd has been an independent bottler of whisky for over 100 years

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The new shop is located just off London’s Pall Mall

Finer tastes

The space – previously a cigar shop – clearly lends itself to those with a taste for the finer things. It has been renovated, with an interior that features reclaimed oak barrel staves from old whisky casks. “We’ve really considered the heritage of the business and the building, as well as materials and the suppliers, and we’ve used that to put the shop together,” Tennent says.

In the corridor linking the spirits shop to 63 Pall Mall sits a solid elm tasting table made of wood from the Brodie Castle Estate in Speyside – home to some of Scotland’s finest whisky distilleries.

From here, the retailer plans to run free weekly tasting events with suppliers. Confirmed so far are distilleries including The Oxford Artisan Distillery, Highland Park and The Macallan. “People want a fantastic retail experience and a fantastic human one,” says Turner. “Our job is to provide that.”

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To mark the opening, Berry Bros & Rudd has released a limited edition 1997 Bowmore single malt

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The ‘spirits reserve room’ is kept electronically locked and stocks ultra-rare bottles priced up to £100,000

To commemorate the opening, BB&R has chosen a cask from Islay distiller Bowmore to produce an exclusive retail bottling – a 1997 single malt scotch. In keeping with its reputation for rare, exclusive drams, the merchant has released just 100 bottles, with 25 available to purchase in store at £1,000.

To get one, shoppers can visit the ‘spirits reserve room’, a section at the back of the shop kept locked. Here, those looking to splash out can choose from a selection of about 120 ultra-rare bottles, including whiskies from lost distilleries such as Karuizawa, Port Ellen and Rosebank, as well as cognacs, tequilas and rums from top producers across the world. Prices in the reserve room range from £1,000 up to £100,000.

“Our customers have a huge appetite for beautiful and rare liquids,” says Turner. “The selection has been carefully curated to offer a truly exceptional range and experience.”