London's Oldest Wine & Spirits Merchant Curates Selections From Renowned Distilleries From Around The World
Berry Bros. & Rudd Spirits Manager Doug McIvor (PICTURED ABOVE) plays a crucial role in the creation and curation of the company's renowned spirits program, Berrys' Own Selections. McIvor has helped create some of Berry Bros.' most iconic spirits in recent years. Here is a short interview with McIvor to learn more about his process and vision:
What is Berrys' Own Selections?
Prior to the opening of many famous whisky distilleries during Victorian times, merchants such as Berry Bros. & Rudd would source casks of various spirits to satisfy demand from their customers as preferences changed over time.
In the late 1700s, brandy and soda was the chosen spirit-based drink of the wealthy London gentleman. By the Napoleonic wars between 1803 and 1815, supply was restricted and scotch whisky became a popular alternative. Later in the century, the phylloxera bug decimated French vine stocks and as a result it was a boom time for scotch whisky.
BB&R can be counted as one of the founders of procuring casks of the finest spirits, and it is a tradition that we continue today under the Berrys' Own Selection banner. The range focuses mainly on single malt scotch whisky, although we also bottle some blended malts, blended scotch, rum, brandy and other products. We do not own a distillery, so we are often described as independent bottlers, and BB&R was voted Independent Bottler of the Year in 2010 and 2011.
What is Your Process for Selecting Spirits to be Part of Berrys' Own Selections?
I work with several distillers and brokers to source casks that fit our criteria. I am looking for spirits that have balance, complexity, texture and maturity. The company philosophy is that it must be good to drink. I have a steady stream of samples arriving which I nose, taste and classify. Much of our stockholding of casks is still immature, so I keep an eye on these in order to judge when the casks will be ready. Equally, it is important that casks are not left too long as they can become over-oaked.
Berrys' Own Selection continues a tradition of providing customers with spirits from the best producers, a tradition that began as long ago as the early 1800s, and probably earlier. By 1900, Berry Bros. & Rudd was well versed in raids north of the border to obtain casks from distilleries such as Talisker, Glenlivet and Macallan. These bottlings all featured in their price list over 100 years ago. In 2003, they decided to bring these special bottlings to a wider audience and increased the range to include single-cask whiskies.
BB&R selects whiskies from all the classic malt regions, and – as with their fine wine heritage – they choose to bottle by vintage, helping discerning drinkers to distinguish between each bottling and ensuring that each is unique. For a full list of availability please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.