Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Spirits specialist joins Berry Bros. & Rudd

Published:  09 January, 2024

Berry Bros. & Rudd has appointed a spirits curator to oversee its growing portfolio, which now includes a soon to be opened new spirits shop.

Felix Dear will take on the role following the departure of spirits reserve manager Jonny McMillan, who is leaving BRR after seven years to open his own whisky distillery, Kythe, in the Scottish Highlands.

Dear will bring years of experience in both whisky curation and bottling to the role, having previously held the position of world whisky & spirits buyer for Atom Brands. He also counts whisky ambassador at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society among his previous roles, as well as leaving a past life as a musician and DJ to move to Speyside and secure a position at the Highlander Inn in Craigellachie.

At BBR, his responsibilities will involve scouting for the top whisky casks and new-make spirits from Scotland and around the world, as well as taking an active role in their development, including the maturation process and wood selection.

“It’s a privilege to join Berry Bros. & Rudd, a company I’ve long admired,” Dear said, adding that his “aspiration is to continue building upon the foundations Jonny McMillan has laid in collaborating with new wave and New World whisky distilleries, whilst also allowing me to work more closely with my first passion in the whisky world – Scotch. Additionally, this role offers a unique opportunity to showcase and promote sustainable practices across the industry, which I’ve always had a passion for and aligns perfectly with our brand’s ethos.”

Spirits is a rapidly growing part of the long-established BBR business. As reported back in Harpers’ December issue, BBR has remained a wine-fronted venture throughout its long history. However, growth on the spirits side of the portfolio is now being supported via a new dedicated spirits shop, which is soon to open on the corner of St James’s and Pall Mall.

“Spirits have always been important to us… but I think it’s an area we haven’t fulfilled to its greatest potential,” Martyn Rolph, BBR’s new head of buying, told Harpers.

“We want to make sure our private clients can invest in spirits alongside wines or on their own if they choose to.”

From Dear’s side, he forecasts the biggest challenge in his role to be the current surge in whisky popularity, which has led to higher prices and increased competition for quality casks. To navigate this, “we focus on building strong relationships with innovative distilleries to secure access to exceptional whiskies at reasonable prices”, he said.

He is also “particularly excited about the rise of new distilleries focusing on sustainability, and the resurgence of traditional whisky-making methods from decades past. This blend of historical techniques and modern innovation is a trend that aligns perfectly with our brand's philosophy”, he concluded.