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Inside Berry Bros. & Rudd's new Spirits Shop

Published:  28 March, 2024

After over one hundred years of being a wine-front merchant, a spirits fascia bearing the name Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) is days away from opening to the public on the hallowed pavements of St James’.

Officially launching on the other side of the Easter break on 2 April, BBR’s newest venture is one of the more adventurous recent moves by the company, which was established in 1698 by a woman with the last name Bourne. Little is known about BBR’s matriarch, including her first name, and today she is known somewhat anachronistically inside the company as Widow Bourne.

Keen to prove that it is moving with the times, both in terms of consumer tastes and budgets (the range spans £30 to £50,000), the company launched its new spirits-focused concept to the trade and press on Tuesday evening (26 March), where some of its 1,000 premium products from 800 producers were on show.

The launch represents an “Interesting decision by a business to invest in a new retail space, considering how the general retail market has been performing,” George Turner, manager of the Spirits Shop, told Harpers. “It comes from the fact that our customers have really been responding over the past few years to our premium spirits offering, which fed into our decision to open a flagship spirits store.

“Customers expect more now. If they’re going to bother leaving their house to buy something from a shop, it needs to offer something over and above just the item they buy: it’s the interaction, the place, the trust, the philosophy and the experience.”

That philosophy and focus on experience is built into the setup of the new shop, which is part of the existing BBR network of tasting rooms, retail space and cellars. A door connects the new floorspace with the existing wine shop at 3 St James’, providing accessibility between the newer and existing parts of the business.

With BBR having reported a rise in spirits sales of 42% YOY, the new Spirits Shop at 1 St James’, aims to build on the company’s long heritage in spirits, which have sat alongside wine in the portfolio for many years.

This heritage stretches back to the task of pioneering Cutty Sark in the 1900s, to developing the modern ultra-premium No.3 London Dry Gin. To commemorate the Spirits Shop opening, BBR has also selected an exclusive cask bottling from Bowmore’s 1997 Single Malt Scotch Whisky, with only 100 hand numbered bottles available.

The new shop also features a Spirits Reserve Room which houses some of the “most finely sought after premium spirits”, Turner said. This includes the most extensive collection of whiskies from Lowland distillery, Daft Mill, anywhere in the world, which Turner calls “Highly exciting”. The reserve range also features “distilleries that don’t even exist anymore”, including Littlemill and Port Ellen – though the latter has now been resurrected by Diageo.

Despite its clear pedigree in the ultra-premium arena, Turner insists that there is something for everyone at 1 St James’.

“We’re a welcoming bunch,” he said. “We want people to know the shop is for anyone with any budget. Quality is tantamount, so making sure we’re working with producers and selling products that align with our values, regardless of price.

“We need to make sure we've got the limited and the inaugural releases, but a lot of people consume spirits through cocktails. We’ve made sure we have an offering that allows people to come in and engage with the products in the way in which they consume it. We’ve got an incredible, really beautiful accessories range of cocktail shakers and books, and we’re going to start to try and do some cocktail events in the shop as well.

“Then it’s up to us to make sure we really know our stuff, and are able to convey that story and passion to each individual, tailored to each individual, when they come in.”