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Justerini & Brooks

Justerini and Brooks have a fascinating history. In 1749 Giacomo Justerini fell in love with Margherita Bellino, an Italian soprano, and followed her to England bringing with him some of his father's recipes for liqueurs. In George Johnson he found an investor and Johnson and Justerini was established in London's St James. In 1760 Justerini sold the business to Johnson and returned to his native Italy, leaving Johnson to go into partnership with his grandson Augustus. The pair formed partnerships with suppliers in France, Spain, Germany and Italy growing the business so successfully that in 1761 they were awarded their first royal warrant by King George III - they have been granted this honour by every successive monarch since. Unfortunately George was killed in 1785 by a runaway horse colliding with his sedan chair. Five years later a fire in the adjoining opera house caused major damage to their premises and Augustus' son, Augustus II, was so heroic in his attempts to extinguish the fire that he was made a partner in the firm. In 1831 the business became Justerini & Brooks when it was sold to Alfred Brooks, and trade was further expanded by selling to the Princes and Maharajahs of India during the reign of Queen Victoria when she was Empress of India. In 1886 Brooks handed over the company to his son-in-law William Cole, who laid down large stocks of young wines, seeing this as integral to the future success of the business. 1889 saw the company being sold to Anderson & Newbiggin, who in 1908 began selling a specially selected champagne, Sarcey, to King Edward VII. In 1962 the company amalgamated with the firm of W & A Gilbey, taking the name of International Distillers and Vintners [IDV – taken over by Grand Metropolitan in 1972 and merged with Guinness in 1997 to create Diageo]. Today Justerini & Brooks is Britain's oldest continuous fine wine and spirits merchant, and continue to represent some of the leading winemakers in the world - and Sarcey champagne continues to delight!