Berry Bros. & Rudd – Some History and the Women Behind the Brand

On my way to 67 Pall Mall Wine Club for a meeting, I had some time, so I wandered into No.3…Just stepping through the front door it was a feast for my senses …. the ancient floorboards, mahogany wall paneling, antique furniture, Royal Warrants, old wine books and catalogs.  Looking closer I saw portraits of former Royal family members who were regular customers, and a framed letter from the White Star Line informing Berry Brothers of the loss of 69 cases of wine and spirits in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. What history! In short, the Berry Bros. & Rudd head office is a historian’s dream.

No. 3 St. James’s Street, London

No. 3 St. James’s Street is now used as the company’s headquarters. No.3, as it’s known, contained Berry Bros. & Rudd’s main retail premises until mid-2017, when these moved around the corner to a purpose-built shop at 63 Pall Mall.

Berry Bros. & Rudd, founded in 1698, and is Britain’s oldest, family-owned wine and spirits merchant. Still trading from No.3 St James’s Street, London, they have two Royal Warrants and five Masters of Wine on staff. Their services also include Other services it offers include wine investment, wine storage, a wine club, tutored tastings, wine events and educational courses.

Royal Warrants

Berry Bros. & Rudd has been the official wine supplier to the British Royal Family since King George III and received its first Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1903 from King Edward VII. Queen Elizabeth II granted the company her royal warrant in 1952, while Prince Charles, now King Charles lll, granted his in 1998.

Despite being 324 years old in 2022, Berry Bros. & Rudd remains at the forefront of wine and spirits innovation. Their current range of over than 4,000 wines is sourced from over 25 countries.

Berry Bros. & Rudd seems to embrace progress, and at the same time value their traditions. Still run by members of the Berry and Rudd families and they also continue to supply the British Royal Family, since King George III.

Women of Berry Bros. & Rudd

Berry Bro & Rudd has been run by the same two families for centuries; It has survived world wars and pandemics, but there is a fleet of female leaders who have shown, and now show that this historic business can and emerge stronger than ever.

The family firm began life as a grocery store in 1698, founded by a woman now known as “Widow Bourne.”

Elizabeth Rudd “Lizzy” is the current Chairman, who is currently planting the seed for the next generation with her ambitious sustainability plans and creating affordable wine investments.

Emma Fox, Chief Executive Officer, was appointed July 2020.  She has been an independent director of the firm’s board since October 2017.

“Over the past few years as a director, I have got to know BB&R very well, I share its values and am passionate about a culture where people flourish and have fun,” Fox said.

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A Scientific Journal Proves Terroir’s Influence on Whisky  

A recent scientific study conducted by Foods, a scientific journal of food science has provided “conclusive proof” of terroir’s influence on whisky. The researchers say that this paves the way for an “Appellation Controlée System” of provenance similar to that used for wine.

The whisky industry has long been debating the influence of terroir on whisky, with some claiming that any effect would not ‘survive’ the distillation process. However, the authors of this academic paper say they have found proof of terroir’s existence in whisky.

The paper, entitled ‘The Impact of Terroir on the Flavour of Single Malt Whisk(e)y New Make Spirit’, was published February 18th, 2021 by the Whisky Terroir Project, a joint venture between Waterford Distillery in Ireland, Oregon State University, Teagasc Food Research Centre, Enterprise Ireland, Minch Malt and the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The study explores the differences found in spirits made from two barley varieties: Olympus and Laureate, which are grown on two farms in different environments in 2017 and 2018. One sample was grown in Athy in County Kildare, while another was cultivated in Bunclody, County Wexford.

Each sample was micro-malted and distilled under laboratory conditions to produce 32 whisky distillate samples. These samples were then tested using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry–olfactometry (GC/MS-O) technology as well as by a panel of sensory experts.

The tests isolated over 42 different flavour compounds, half of which researchers said were “directly influenced by the barley’s terroir”.

Eight of these compounds – (E)-2-nonenal, β-damascenone, 3-methyl-1-butanol, furfural, ethyl hexanoate and 1 unidentified compound (unknown 10 with a herbal/grass character) – were deemed the most influential, with a further 15 having an impact on the aroma, but to a lesser extent.

Barley grown in the sheltered inland Athy site had higher pH levels and increased calcium, magnesium and molybdenum in its limestone-based soil. Temperatures were higher and more consistent than the more exposed Bunclody site, with lower rainfall. The new make spirit produced from barley grown in Athy had flavours of toasted almond, with a malty, biscuity and oily finish.

Bunclody’s barley, which was grown on shale-based soil with increased amounts of iron, copper and manganese, produced a spirit that was lighter and more floral with fresh fruit flavours. The site was closer to the coast and experienced more changeable weather conditions.

Dr. Dustin Herb, the lead researcher, and post-doctoral research at Oregon State University, states: “This interdisciplinary study investigated the basis of terroir by examining the genetic, physiological, and metabolic mechanisms of barley contributing to whisky flavour. Using standardised malting and distillation protocols, we preserved distinct flavours associated with the testing environments and observed year-to-year variations, indicating that terroir is a significant contributor to whisky flavour.”

“Critics claimed any terroir effect would be destroyed by the whisky-making process, saying there is no scientific evidence to prove that terroir even exists. Well, there is now.”

The paper concluded: “This study has clearly demonstrated variations in the contribution of the aroma active volatiles and sensory attributes in these new make spirits and reflects changes in barley growth in relation to environmental elements including soil nutrients and prevailing seasonal weather patterns, and therefore reveals a “terroir” effect.

“This has not been previously determined and creates the possibility of producing whisk(e)y from different “vintage” with new make spirit that encompass the factors impacting on the growth of the barley variety as well as the subsequent processing parameters.

“Further research is required to better understand the specific environmental impact on barley growth and the management and processing thereof with respect to the genetic, physiological, and metabolic mechanisms contributing to the terroir expression of new make spirit and whisk(e)y.”

Source:  Foods, www.mdpi.com