The Norman conquest


Photographed by Jason Lowe

Photographed by Jason Lowe

It took a mere 315 years for Berry Bros. & Rudd to find the perfect Calvados. Here, spirits specialist Rob Whitehead documents his quest to bring the ultimate apple brandy to market.

Selecting a spirit to be bottled in our Berrys’ Own Selection range can be a deceptively complex process, easily capable of running the entire gamut of human emotion. From the euphoria of discovering a suitable liquid to the crushing tedium of minutely scrutinising every last aspect of label design, through the blind-rage inspired (at least in my experience) by labyrinthine logistical complications to the teary-eyed elation at finally placing a bottle on the shelf of our ancient St. James’s Street shop whilst trepidatiously tasting a sample ‘just to make sure’ it is as delicious as you remember from all those long months ago.

Chronologically, I am certainly not the first person to have been responsible for selecting the range of spirits to be offered to our customers under a Berry Bros. & Rudd label, and that magnificent mill-stone of history inspires an acute need to focus on all manner of different considerations when bottling our products. The multi-dimensional Venn diagram in my mind allows only a very tiny proportion of all the wonderful products we sell to even be up for consideration to wear our venerable livery.

Making the grade
First and foremost, any spirit selected must be of high quality. It is perhaps not necessary for said spirit to soar into the qualitative stratosphere and shatter dreams of any other thing ever being good enough ever again, but it should be tempting, tasty and faultless.

Secondly, and slightly more complicatedly, any Berrys’ Own Selection spirit must be either stylistically classic or beguilingly individual. Some of our range is chosen to express text-book examples of a particular ilk. Other Berrys’ spirits (specifically the single-cask whiskies and rums) are picked to express singular moments in time at the very instant we think that particular barrel is shining at its quixotic, gustatorial brightest.

Lastly, yet no less importantly, we intend to offer our customers value with each bottle offering ‘best-in-class’ quality at prices that allow them to be thoroughly and responsibly enjoyed.

Successfully solving this complicated conundrum means I take very great pleasure in introducing, not only a new Berrys’ bottling, but the first ever in its particular category. After generations of selling the distilled products of our Norman brethren the time has come to make the inaugural offering of Berrys’ Own Selection Calvados.


This is a beautifully fruit-driven Calvados, sure to gladden the heart of any cider-brandy (or proper West-Country scrumpy) aficionado with lashings of bruised apple and delicate vanilla spice to the fore. Just like the very best apple pie, there is a lovely, comforting structure with enough bright freshness to intrigue the palate.

As always with a new arrival, the first days, weeks and months are anxious moments, hoping that your creation will meet with approval from the family and proudly watching as it finds its feet amongst its peers. Eventually, after being introduced to a wide range of people and experiences, there comes a time when you cannot remember what life was like before you met. To aid in this introduction, I invite you all to visit our shop, taste with me and meet the newest addition to our family for yourself.