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BBR continues to roll with thirst for sake

Published:  08 May, 2024

Berry Bros. & Rudd is to repeat its en primeur sake offer this year, reflecting the ongoing growth in this spirits category.

According to the St James merchant, since the introduction of its inaugural sake en primeur offer last year, which sold out in just days, sake sales rose almost tenfold in the year to May 2024.

Similarly, searches for sake on the BBR website rose 300% in 2023 over 2022, with concurrent uplift in sales also reported at the likes of Wagamama and Waitrose, which have also got behind the category.

BBR, which recently opened a dedicated spirits shop adjacent to its HQ in London’s St James, added that sprits generally have been showing strong growth over the 12 months to May.

Offering sake en primeur is a first for the UK, with the practice more usually reserved for wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux. However, BBR has found a ready market of buyers, folding rare and high end sakes into the offer, including bottles from ‘innovative’ breweries such as Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute, Tatenokawa and IWA 5, the latter (for example) being sakes epically created by Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave Richard Geoffroy.

Beyond the En Primeur offer, the BBR’s spirits Shop now carries nearly 20 different sakes, including labels such as Noguchi Naohiko, Limited Edition 01, Tsuji Honten, Gozenshu and Junmai Bodaimoto Kijoshu. An additional cooling system has been installed to ensure that the delicate character of sakes are protected as they mature. 

“We are thrilled to offer our Berry Bros. & Rudd customers the opportunity to engage with sake, both in our brand-new spirits shop and through a dedicated en primeur campaign, which challenges the traditions of sake and customer perceptions of the drink,” said spirits buyer Rob Whitehead.