Former Berry Bros chairman John Rudd dies

9th February, 2021 by Nicola Carruthers

John Rudd, the former chairman of British merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, has died at the age of 94.

John Rudd

John Rudd worked at Berry Bros & Rudd for 72 years

Berry Bros and its US importer Hotaling & Co announced the death of Rudd, who passed away at his home on 10 January.

Rudd was described as a ‘key player in the US spirits trade’ during his long career, which included 72 years at family-owned wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros. The company was founded in 1698.

Rudd was known for being a ‘modest English gentleman of impeccable integrity and a warm, understated sense of humour’. He was also said to have the rare ability to combine traditional values with a practical and entrepreneurial flair for business.

In 1948, after several years in the British Army, Rudd joined Berry Bros. His role saw him assist in the annual stock take. At this time the firm employed approximately 40 people, who were all based at the company’s headquarters at No.3 St James’s Street.

After six months at the wine and spirits merchant, Rudd visited The Glenlivet Distillery in Scotland to learn from William Smith Grant, the great-grandson of George Smith, the distillery’s founder. This experience was an important start to Rudd’s career.

At the beginning of his tenure at Berry Bros, Rudd focused on learning about both wine and spirits. The firm’s spirits business was mainly focused on Scotch whisky brand Cutty Sark, which was created in 1923.

Rudd then took on more involvement in spirits at the company, managing the brand development of Cutty Sark globally. Rudd helped to establish Cutty Sark as the largest-selling Scotch whisky brand in the US. In 1961 sales reached one million cases in the US – the first Scotch brand to hit this milestone. At its peak, more than 20m bottles of Cutty Sark were being shipped to the US annually and the brand was shipped to more than 100 countries globally.

Today, Cutty Sark is owned by French drinks group La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, which acquired the brand from Macallan owner Edrington in 2018.

Rudd became managing director of Berry Bros in 1966, and was appointed chairman in 1985, a role he held for 15 years. In 2000, he stepped down from the chairman position and became a non-executive director on the board of directors until his retirement in 2016.

Rudd is the father of Lizzy Rudd, who is the company’s current chairman, and Richard and Edward, who also sit on the Berry Bros board.

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