Justerini & Brooks

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A bottle of J&B Scotch

Justerini & Brooks is a fine wine merchants based in the West End of London. It was founded by Giacomo Justerini an émigré from Bologna in 1749. Justerini & Brooks was first awarded the Royal Warrant by King George III in 1761, and has been granted this honour by every successive monarch since, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Justerini & Brooks has offices in St James’s Street, London, Edinburgh and Hong Kong. They supply wines and spirits to an exclusive list of private clients and restaurants. Their portfolio includes some of the best known estates from France, Italy and Germany, including: Domaine du Comte Liger Belair, Pétrus, Chateau Lafleur, Roberto Voerzio and JJ Prüm. They are amongst the largest importers of domaine bottled Burgundy, Barolo and Riesling in the UK.

They are also known for developing the J&B blended Scotch whisky. The company is owned by multinational Diageo plc.


J&B Rare Blend, the standard J&B whisky brand, is a blend of forty-two Scottish malt and grain whiskies.[1] Single malts Knockando, Auchroisk and Glen Spey are at its heart.[2] In terms of flavour, its closest competitor is Cutty Sark.[3]

Furthermore, J&B's portfolio includes:

  • J&B Reserve 15-year-old
  • Jet 12-year-old
  • Exception (a pure malt limited to France)

It is aimed mainly for the export market and is available in a few different variants in Europe, America and Korea among other places. The company, originally called Johnson & Justerini, was founded in 1749 in the City of London delivering fine wine and spirits to various aristocratic households, as well as supplying King George III. In 1831, Johnson & Justerini was bought by Alfred Brooks and renamed Justerini & Brooks.


The firm's founder, Giacomo Justerini, arrived in London from Bologna in 1749 in pursuit, not of his fortune, but of a beautiful opera singer, Margherita Bellino, with whom he had fallen in love.

Though his pursuit of love was unrequited, he must have been comforted by his fortunes, which prospered greatly; so that by 1760 he was able to sell the firm to George Johnson and retire to Italy. Throughout the difficult days of the London riots of 1780 and the Napoleonic Wars, George Johnson and later his son and grandson managed the firm with considerable skill, until in 1830 it was sold to Alfred Brooks, a young man doubly blessed by wealth and good connections. He added his name to that of Justerini and built up a discerning and knowledgeable clientele, amongst them Charles Dickens whose bills, still in our possession today, reflect his growing success as an author and his increasing enthusiasm for our wines.

Throughout the rest of the Century markets expanded rapidly both at home and abroad, and during this period there came about an increasing taste for blended Scotch Whisky. From this was born J&B Rare, our own "house" whisky, which has taken the name of Justerini & Brooks across the world. Ironically it was Prohibition-or rather its repeal- which gave J&B its major success on the export market as it was one of the first whiskies to be launched on the vast and thirsty American market in 1933. Since then sales of J&B Rare have grown rapidly and it is now the world's second largest selling Scotch whisky and has gained no less than 5 Queen's Awards for Export Achievement.

For over 260 years the company has built up an unrivalled reputation, both for the quality of our wines and the standard of service offered to customers all over the world.

In 1749, Giacomo Justerini (or Giustarini) from Bologna, fell in love with an opera singer and followed her to London, bringing with him a number of recipes for liqueurs created by his uncle, who was a distiller. He found an English partner, George Johnson, and together they set up as wine merchants. In 1760, Justerini returned to his native land after selling the business to Johnson. That same year, King George III honoured the firm with the first of its eight Royal Warrants.[4]

In 1831, the business was bought by Alfred Brooks, a gentleman of means - it was said that his St John's Wood gardens were sufficiently large to include a snipe shoot. The firm became Justerini & Brooks, and its headquarters were established in Regent's Park. Charles Dickens was an early customer.[5]

Seeing the potential of blended whisky, J&B was one of the first London spirits merchants to buy up stocks of mature malt whisky and create its own "house" blend. This was named Club (and is still available from J&B's shops in St. James's Street, London and Alva Street, Edinburgh). During Prohibition the company was promoting a brand they had created specifically for the American market, J&B Rare, and when Prohibition came to an end in 1933, their activities began to pay dividends in and around New York City.

In the early 1950s J&B merged with another company to form United Wine Traders. In 1962, UWT merged with gin producer W&A Gilbey to form International Distillers & Vintners. In 1963 bottling of J&B was carried out at the Strathleven Bonded Warehouse plant in Dumbarton, opened by Edward Heath, helping J&B win six Queens awards for export.

IDV became part of Grand Metropolitan in 1972, that merged with Guinness to become Diageo. Bottling was moved in 2000. Today J&B is the second best selling blended whisky in the world, after Johnnie Walker.


J&B is authorized to be commercialized in:


  1. ^ Great Whiskies. Dorling Kindersley. 2011. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-4053-6018-0. 
  2. ^ Great Whiskies. Dorling Kindersley. 2011. p. 196. ISBN 978-1-4053-6018-0. 
  3. ^ Whisky Opus. Dorling Kindersley. 2012. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-4093-7580-7. 
  4. ^ "Justerini and Brooks Whisky". Master of Malt. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  5. ^ "Justerini & Brooks - Our Royal Warrants". Justerinis.com. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 

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