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Our History

Our History

270 years in the making…

Founded in 1749, Justerini & Brooks is Britain's oldest continuous fine wine and spirits merchant. From our Pall Mall offices, we quickly gained a reputation for expertly sourcing, and offering outstanding quality and service; virtues we strive for to this very day.

We pride ourselves on being a relationship business.

Building a portfolio as substantial as this requires continuity and close work with the estates over many years. Our portfolio is constantly evolving, as we seek out new, choice additions and the up-and-coming talent. Our global distribution helps us to attract the elite collector from around the world, with us beginning to export to overseas private collectors since 1858.

A Timeline: The History of Justerini & Brooks

Located in London’s West End for more than 270 years, and awarded the Royal Warrant by every consecutive British monarch since King George III (1761); Justerinis boasts a rich history. Aside from our Royal patrons, we can also count Charles Dickens as one of our former clients.

Plotting the unabridged history of a 270 year old merchant is unfeasible, but we have charted a timeline of some of the major events that have shaped our company and the Wine Trade in general.


Giacomo Justerini, the son of a Bolognian distiller, is drawn to London by Margherita Bellino an Italian soprano. He meets George Johnson – a willing investor – and the two form ‘Johnson & Justerini: purveyors of liquors, wines and spirits,’ running their offices from No. 2 Pall Mall where we remained until 1954.


Giacomo, after a short spell in London sells Johnson & Justerini to George Johnson and retires back to Italy. George then makes his Grandson, Augustus, a partner at the company.

Johnson & Justerini continues to build the relationships with growers and suppliers throughout Europe, including: Bordeaux, Cadiz, Mayence, Reims, Genoa, Dijon and Palermo.


Augustus delivers the wines for both King George III’s Coronation and the Royal wedding. He is given the title of the new Monarch’s wine merchant. Justerini & Brooks has been granted the Royal Warrant ever since.


Johnson & Justerini is an early champion of German wines. In 1775 the first official ‘Spätlese’ or late-gathering harvest takes place. This sets a style for German wines that remains, to this day, one of its finest trademarks.


George Johnson dies suddenly after his sedan-chair is overturned by a runaway horse in Piccadilly – just 36 years after founding Johnson & Justerini. His death marks ‘the end of the beginning.’


The Opera House burns to the ground leaving our offices with significant fire damage. Despite this; Augustus’ son – Augustus II - is made partner for his heroic efforts tackling the flames.


Following the discovery of secondary fermentation and advances in glass technology, Champagne (in its sparkling form) is successfully imported to England for the first time.


King George III dies, succeeded by his son George IV. Augustus Johnson II carries on stocking the King’s cellars, delivering up to seven wagon-loads of liquor at any one time.


A decision that changes the course of history - Augustus sells Johnson & Justerinis to Alfred Brooks.

Brooks takes control of the company and changes the name from Johnson & Justerini, to Justerini & Brooks.


The 1855 Classification ranks the most revered Chateaux of the Medoc – a system that has remained relevant to this day. Lafite, Margaux, Latour and Haut-Brion became the most prestigious ‘First Growths’.


Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India and the whole sub-continent was brought within the sphere of British commerce.

Justerini & Brooks was quick to spot the commercial opportunity, securing the custom of many of the reigning Princes.


For the first time, Scots are allowed to bottle their own whisky for shipment to England and other markets.


The first evidence of the Phylloxera bug is witnessed in the Rhône. This pesky little fly would ravish European vineyards in the last quarter of the 19th century and would change viticultural practices forevermore.


Justerini & Brooks establishes an office in New York and begins trading.


For the second time, the adjoining Opera House – Her Majesty’s Theatre, burns down. Justerini & Brooks' offices at No. 2 are flooded with water from the fire-hoses and everything in it is covered with soot and ashes. Despite this, Justerini & Brooks continues to conduct business from the premises.


Alfred Brooks hands over the company to his son-in-law William Cole, in 1876.

This is the last great pre-phylloxera vintage from Bordeaux. The UK’s love affair with Claret blossoms.

Cole finances the laying down of great stocks of young wines, which he views as essential to the success of any wine merchant’s business.


Justerini & Brooks is among the first of the London merchants to acquire old bonded stocks of whisky in Scotland with which they establish their own blend; for half-a-century their ‘Club’ Scotch does not alter.


William Cole then goes onto sell Justerini & Brooks to Anderson & Newbiggin, just before his death in 1889.

Alfred, William’s son, inherits his father’s flair for finance and takes the role as director of the Bank of England and later becomes Governor.


Justerini & Brooks’ specially curated vintage Champagne ‘Sarcey,’ is despatched to King Edward VII.


With space at a premium in London, Justerini & Brooks begins offering a cellarage service to clients, laying down wines and storing them free of charge.


Eddie Tatham travelled to prohibition America. He spots the enormous opportunity for blended Scotch and J&B Rare is created specifically with this market in mind.


J&B Rare whisky is blended and offered for sale for the first time.


Justerini & Brooks employs Colonel Ronnie Lambert of the Grenadier Guards, who, having tasted most vintages of all the important Chateaux dating back to the 1860s, provides unrivalled insight into the development of new vintages.


The first delivery of J&B Rare is made to Paddington for distribution to America.


Pre-war wines begin to fetch up to 20 times their original value at public auction, but goodwill means more to Justerini & Brooks than immediate profits, and every bottle stored goes to its customers at 1939 prices.


The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (and the creation of Coronation Chicken).


After 205 years at No. 2 Pall Mall (The Colonnade) Justerini & Brooks moves offices to Bond Street. Justerini & Brooks also take an office at No. 31 Holborn Viaduct, a great location for its customers who worked in the City and wanted to collect wine on their return from work.


Justerini & Brooks ship one million cases of whisky for export, thanks to the master-mind Sir Kenneth Murray, (also Chairman of The Royal Bank of Scotland).

The 1961 Bordeaux vintage is born. It will go on to represent a benchmark of quality that won’t be surpassed for the rest of the millennium.


On May 14th, Justerini & Brooks amalgamate with the world-famous firm of W & A Gilbey, taking the name of International Distillers and Vintners (IDV). This brings to the group an important interest in a number of world-renowned brands, the leaders being Justerini & Brooks’ own J&B Rare Scotch whisky.


Justerini & Brooks’ first Edinburgh office is set up under the directorship of Ian de Sales la Terriere and is highly successful, expanding the business through Scottish private customers, restaurants and hotels.


The introduction of VAT, duty increases and inflation leads to an almost unprecedented wine slump. On the upside, 1966 sees an extremely good vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy as well as a ‘vintage’ declaration from leading shippers of port, and victory at the World Cup!

Geoffrey Jameson, Managing Director, is appointed Clerk of the Royal Cellars, an honorary advisory post.


Justerini & Brooks makes its biggest annual shipment of whisky – two million cases. The wine side of the business relocates to St James’s Street, while the whisky side moves to York Gate, Regents Park. Dick Bridgeman is appointed as Buying Director.


1970 sees a rare Bordeaux vintage - combining quality and quantity. Justerini & Brooks writes of their ‘great confidence in the wines,’ (Leoville-Barton did not seem overpriced at £3.48 per bottle, despite talk of the fine wine market becoming ‘overheated’).


Mouton Rothschild is promoted to the ranks of the ‘First Growths’. Pablo Picasso adorns the label; alas, the vintage didn’t live up to the historic milestone…


Inflation and interest rates prevent the financing of stocks. In hindsight, this was perhaps no bad thing – there weren’t many memorable vintages in the 70s… Hew Blair joins Justerini & Brooks and remembers his first two years with the company as being so quiet that the telephone hardly rang.


The managing Director of Justerini & Brooks, Geoffrey Jameson, opens up Hong Kong as a sales market with a series of large dinners and events for private customers, hosted at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.


John Kelly, the Cellar-man at Justerini & Brooks, is responsible for selecting the port that guests drink at lunch. The rules for the Port Game are as follows: At the end of the meal a decanter of Vintage Port is produced and guests are asked to put down £2 in a pool as an ‘entrance fee’. They are then asked to judge the Port and name a vintage and a shipper. If they get the vintage right, they take the money; if the shipper, they receive a bottle of the port. If nobody gets the vintage, the money goes to charity.


The ‘Robert Parker Influence’ takes hold of the market. His new marking system gains rapid popularity, and, along with the 1982 vintage, heralds a new era for buying and selling in Bordeaux.


Geoffrey Jameson (‘Gentle Giant’) retires as managing director and is succeeded by Geoffrey Gibbon.


Hew Blair pioneers the Justerini & Brooks Burgundy en primeur tasting in London. We are the first British merchant to bring over and display barrel samples to private customers, starting with the Burgundy 1990 vintage.


Justerini & Brooks launches a new programme ‘J&B Care for the Rare’, a world-wide initiative to save rare and endangered species from extinction. One of the first projects saw the reintroduction of a breeding pair of black rhinos into Malawi, one named ‘Justerini’ and the other named ‘Brooks’.


The Queen Mother visits Justerini & Brooks for lunch

Justerini & Brooks establishes a broking department, allowing customer to sell wines stored in their Cellars.


Justerini & Brooks receives the Royal Warrant of Appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1997, as Wine & Spirits Merchants.

The death of Diana, Princess of Wales shocks the nation. Crowds flock to St James’s Palace and it becomes near impossible to get in and out of No 61. Princess Diana and her father were both regular visitors to Justerini & Brooks.


The Queen Mother celebrates her 100th birthday. She attends a lunch in our private dining room held in her honour. And with a little steering from Edward Demery CVO, she wins the Port Game!


Justerini & Brooks is appointed as exclusive agents for the UK and Singapore for Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair


Queen Elizabeth II marks her Golden Jubilee of 50 years of rule. The Queen Mother dies aged 101.


Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest ever reigning British monarch


Hew Blair is appointed chairman of Justerini & Brooks.


This incredible Bordeaux vintage marks our largest primeur campaign to date. Robert Parker later awards the vintage 20 perfect 100 point wines.


Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Bordeaux’s 2010 crop trumps the 2009s


Hew Blair is appointed President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association, whilst also sitting on the Buckingham Palace Wine Committee.


Giles Burke-Gaffney is appointed as Buying Director.

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee of 60 years since her accession to the throne.

Chadwick Delaney becomes Managing Director of Justerini & Brooks, having been Sales Director since 2003.


Justerini & Brooks is proud to be appointed UK distributors for Chateau Lafleur and Petrus.


Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest ever reigning British monarch surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.

Justerini & Brooks reignite its links to conservation by partnering with Tusk Trust for its 25th anniversary.


Justerini & Brooks celebrates 25 years of Burgundy en primeur tastings.

2016 also marks the 40th anniversary of Geoffrey Jameson’s inaugural series of Hong Kong dinners held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in 1976.

And Justerini & Brooks’ 150th anniversary since setting up office in New York.


Justerini & Brooks celebrates its 270th Anniversary Year


Justerini & Brooks’ Buyers continue to maintain and develop relationships with suppliers around the globe. We are proud to represent some of the leading winemakers and Chateaux including: Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair, Petrus, Lafleur, Bruno Clair, Didier Dagueneau, J L Chave, J. J. Prum, Domaine Weinbach, Elio Altare, and Heitz Cellars. Investing time, getting to know our growers, understanding their philosophies, their vineyards and how they unlock potential in the terroir they farm is essential to the Justerinis’ buying process.

Whether we are selling to private clients or trade, we try to offer a personalised service; understanding the requirements of the client is paramount to what we do. We help build cellars for individual collectors and supply fine wines to some of the UK’s leading restaurants, hotels and clubs, including: Le Gavroche, The Fat Duck, The Arts Club, Tower 42, Claridge’s, The Dorchester and The Goring. Our sales teams are passionate and knowledgeable, offering bespoke advice to a global client base.