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Sandeman

In 1790, 25 year old Scottish-born George Sandeman asked his father for a £300 loan to set himself up as a wine merchant in London. As was usual practice in those days, George began trading from Tom's Coffee House in Birchin Lane, where business was agreed on a “gentleman's word”. From early on his specialty was port and sherry, and so one of the world's leading port and sherry wine businesses was established, and George soon gained a reputable reputation. George was a pioneer; this was a time when wines were shipped in barrel, not in bottle, and brand names were unheard of, but in 1805 George began to “brand” his barrels using a hot iron with the initials GSC (George Sandeman & Co.), and this signature guaranteed quality and origin. The same year George moved his business to 20 St. Swithin's Lane. It was built over an ancient vault, ideal for the aging of the wines and this iconic property remained the head office of Sandeman until 1969, when they moved to their present site opposite the Tate gallery on the Albert Embankment. The beginning of the 19th century saw troubled times with the Napoleonic wars, but an undeterred George travelled to Spain and Portugal, where he acquired lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia so that he could store port before shipment. Dating from the late 18th century, these beautiful buildings remain the Sandeman Cellars where over 2,000 casks age their wines today. By 1825 Sandeman were trading in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America, shipping 4,580 pipes, a figure which no other shipper even approached. In the early 1800's, Tawny Port had yet to gain recognition, but by mid-century Sandeman were already shipping “fine old tawny port, rare and scarce”, consciously aging premium wines in their cellars to become exceptional aged tawnies. Today, vast stocks of old wines from those cellars are the source of Sandeman Aged Tawny Ports, a benchmark for the port industry. The Trade Marks Registration Act came into force in 1876, and just one year later the brand name “GSC George Sandeman & Co”, which had been burned into their casks since 1805, was officially listed; it is one of the world's oldest registered trade marks still in use. The Napoleonic wars disturbed Sandeman's sherry business. Offices were established in Cadiz in 1809, but succumbed to a siege by Napoleon the following year. After the wars sherry sales began to recover and Sandeman selected high quality producers to work with, amongst whom was Julian Pémartin in 1822. This relationship was to last until 1879 when Pémartin was dissolved, but Sandeman acquired all their assets, including stocks of wines, vineyards and buildings and the historic Sandeman Bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera. In 1841 George was succeeded by his nephew George Glas Sandeman, from whom all subsequent heads of the business have been descended, continuing the company's success through the 20th century. Sandeman was bought by Seagram in 1980, and then passed through the hands of Pernod Ricard, before current owners Sogrape acquired it in 2002. Sandeman's instantly recognizable “The Don” was painted in 1928 by George Massiot-Brown. The logo depicts a silhouetted man wearing a Portuguese students cape and a wide-brimmed Spanish hat, holding a ruby-coloured glass, against a yellow-green background. This is one of the most iconic images in the drinks business and cleverly unites the two great Iberian fortified drinks on which Sandeman have built their world-wide reputation. Sandeman has an impressive portfolio of sherries and ports and also produce brandy and Madeira. They have an impressive list of accolades to match – they are quite simply, the most awarded Port Wine brand in the world! Find The Don!