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UK Port celebrates 650 years history of Portuguese alliance

Published:  16 June, 2023

The UK Port industry is celebrating six-and-a-half centuries of cooperation and trade this week, which included a celebratory dinner hosted by Taylor’s in the Tower of London’s White Tower.

It has been 650 years (and counting) since the Anglo-Portuguese Treaty was signed by King Edward III and King Fernando and Queen Leonor of Portugal on 16 June 1373 in St Paul’s Cathedral.

The treaty between England and Portugal is now the longest continuous alliance anywhere in the world. Port wine has become a staple on British shelves and tables in the centuries since and remains the UK’s oldest trading relationship.

It was fitting then, that the milestone was marked in London’s oldest building on Wednesday evening, with Harpers in attendance.

Adrian Bridge, CEO of Taylor’s Port, which organised and hosted the event, paid tribute to the two nations’ long-standing relationship.

“Taylor’s Port is relatively young compared to a millennium of time within the walls of this tower and the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance. Founded in 1692, Taylor’s roots were firmly planted in Portugal and have continued in the same family for several generations.

“We are proud to be a partner and the official Port for Portugal-UK 650 which commemorates the long and enduring friendship between our two countries. It is a fitting tribute to share these magnificent Ports in such an iconic setting which has been the seat of Kings and Queens for centuries,” he said.

One of the original Port houses, Taylor’s served its Coronation Port Limited Edition Very Very Old Tawny (80+ years) at the event, which was released earlier in the year.

With all eyes on the history, and the future, of Port this week, the WSTA also had some choice words about the category.

In a statement, the organisation said the “celebrations will be short-lived when alcohol duty rockets on August 1”.

Following the alliance of 1373, Port was given preferential tax treatment under the subsequent the Methuen Treaty, which gave a boost to trade.

However, that trading bond is set to be severed by the government’s new alcohol taxation system, which will see fortified wines worst hit. Port, at 20% abv, will be subject to 44% duty increase, meaning most fortified wines will go up by around £1.50 a bottle (duty +VAT).