Visit the Wine Shop That Supplies the British Royal Family

May 20, 2018

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Ever wondered where the royal family gets their booze? They definitely don’t leave the corner liquor store with a brown paper bag stapled shut like the rest of us.

Berry Bros. & Rudd, a sophisticated London wine merchant, has been the official wine supplier to British royals since the reign of King George III, though the brand itself dates back to 1698.

 

The original founder was said to be a woman, known as the Widow Bourne. She passed the shop on to her daughter and son-in-law, William Pickering (a tawny port in his name is still sold at the shop). The nearby Pickering Cellar, which hosts the Berry Bros. & Rudd wine school, is also named after the young man.

(Photo by Tim Graham -Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Graham -Getty Images)

Eventually, the Berry brothers came into possession of the store, and they quickly catapulted the shop’s reputation. (After all, one of the Berry brothers was a close friend of Napoleon III, and Berry Bros. & Rudd is known to have shipped Cutty Sark whiskey into the United States during Prohibition.)

Between the two London shops, Berry Bros. & Rudd now has over 5,000 different wines from more than 25 countries available for purchase. Bottles range from £10 (about $14) to £10,000 (about $13,560). The company also has a wine school in the aforementioned Pickering Cellar, and a fine wine and dining venue on St James’s Street.

Travelers in London should absolutely carve out time to visit the storied merchant. Sample a few wines — they have more than 20 varieties available for tasting at any given time — and choose a bottle to bring back to your hotel room. Berry Bros. & Rudd also has six masters of wine (this is the highest level wine qualification that can be obtained) to help point you in the right direction.

The store is also famous for selling (and supplying the royal family with) exclusive Berry Bros. & Rudd spirits. Some of their most famous include the classic No.3 London Dry Gin; a Mauritian-style rum, Penny Blue; The Glenrothes Single Malt; and The King’s Ginger liqueur (TPG Travel Editor Melanie Lieberman came home with a bottle after her last trip to London).

According to shop legend, The King’s Ginger was originally formulated to fortify King Edward VII after his morning carriage ride, as ginger is known for its healing properties. Today, it’s more commonly mixed with with whisky, or used to create a spicy mulled wine.

Berry Bros. & Rudd surely puts most local liquor stores to shame.

(Photo by The Glenrothes via Flickr.)
(Photo by The Glenrothes via Flickr.)

Getting There

Both Berry Bros. & Rudd shops are located in central London (the original storefront has stood at No. 3 St. James’s Street for more than three centuries), and travelers can either pre-book existing events or tastings online, or simply stop in to sip and shop.

There are plenty of ways to get between the United States and England. WOW Air offers extra cheap fares, but you’ll have a layover in Reykjavík (KEF). Norwegian is another low-cost option for travelers who would prefer to pay cash.

If you’ve got a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer some to British Airways, but you may end up paying hefty fuel surcharges on BA award tickets. United is a another option if you’d like to transfer points from Chase, with reasonable saver award availability in economy, especially in low season. Aer Lingus is another Chase transfer partner, but you’ll have to stop in Dublin before continuing on to London.

Travelers can also redeem Delta SkyMiles or American AAdvantage miles to fly to London nonstop from major hubs, or with just one stop from many markets across the country. With the right strategy, you can even fly to London for free using points and miles.

Where to Stay in London

Although London hotel stays can often be pricey, there are seemingly endless options if you’d like to use points. Here at TPG we recommend the Sheraton Park Lane and the London EDITION. The city also has a number of Radisson Blu properties that are centrally located. If you’re ready to splurge, stay at The Savoy — just make sure to use your Citi Prestige card to take advantage of the fourth night free benefit.  For more information on selecting your perfect points hotel, consult our comprehensive guide to redeeming points in the Old Smoke.

Feature image by Nicolas Asfouri – Getty Images.

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