Berry Bros & Rudd’s former chairman John Rudd dies

John Rudd, the former chairman of London-based fine wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd and the driving force behind the success of its Cutty Sark Scotch brand, has died age 94.

Former Berry Bros & Rudd chairman John Rudd has died

As reported by The Telegraph, Rudd, who was born in Buckinghamshire on 9 June 1926, died on 10 January 2021, aged 94.

Rudd was born into a family of wine merchants. His father, Hugh, joined St James’s-based fine wine Berry Bros in 1920, the Rudd family having worked as wine traders in Norwich since 1851.

Originally opening as a grocer in 1698, and a supplier to local coffee houses, the merchant gets its name from brothers George and Henry Berry, who took over the site in 1845.

As reported by The Telegraph, Rudd was added to the merchant’s name in the 1940s when the Rudd family became substantial shareholders in the company.

In 1923 Hugh Rudd led the launch of Cutty Sark whisky, a pale hued Scotch designed to be enjoyed in mixed drinks, which quickly became popular with the American market.

Educated at Marlborough, John Rudd was made a director of Berry Bros in 1944 aged just 18, after his brother Brian was killed in action with the Coldstream Guards in Italy.

Officially joining the merchant in 1948, one of his first tasks was to help with the stock take. At that time there were around 40 people employed by the business.

Rudd played a pivotal role in driving exports of Cutty Sark, which, at its peak, was the biggest Scotch brand in America, selling 20 million bottles a year.

In 1958 Rudd married Margaret Fuzzey, from Guernsey, who died in 2010. He became managing director of BBR in 1966. As part of his role, he travelled extensively, introducing Cutty Sark to over 100 export markets and turning it into a highly profitable venture.

The Telegraph describes Rudd as “formal in manner and impeccably tailored with “a fine palate, understated sense of humour and a deep knowledge of whisky and wine”.

Working at the chairman of the merchant from 1985 to 2000, having taken over from Anthony Berry, during his tenure Berry Bros expanded its business, opening outlets in Kong, Dublin and Heathrow airport.

Rudd remained on the Berry Bros board as a non-executive director until 2016, having clocked up 72 years of service for the company.

In his spare time he enjoyed driving his Frazer Nash racing car and sailing, and for 25 years Berry Bros. & Rudd sponsored the Cutty Sark Tall Ships race. Rudd is survived by his daughter Lizzy, chairman of Berry Bros & Rudd, and sons Richard and Edward.

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