J&B (Justerini & Brooks) is one of the first brands that comes to mind when it comes to whiskey, with its iconic green bottle and memorable yellow label. J&B, which has a very important place in the history of whiskey, is one of the whiskey bottles for many whiskey lovers, including myself. Maybe that's why J&B always takes me back to the past. Of course, Dean Martin, who I am a big fan of and a strict J&B consumer, has a big share in this…
In this article, I will tell you about the story of this iconic brand that started in Italy and extended to London, America and, of course, Scotland.
Bologna to London
The story of J&B, which has a long and layered history, begins in Bologna. The name of our hero is the owner of the letter "J" in the name of the brand. Giacomo Justerini.
Working at his uncle's distillery in Bologna, Giacomo is a very hardworking young man with a great talent for blending. While it is only a matter of time before he takes over the distillery, Giacomo falls in love with the opera singer Margherita Bellini, and this love changes not only his own life, but also the entire whiskey history with him.
Giacomo follows Margherita Bellini to London (1749). On the one hand, Giacomo tries to survive in the difficult conditions of the London of the time, on the other hand, he tries to win the heart of Margherita. In those years, when Italian opera was becoming increasingly popular in London, he spent a lot of time in opera houses to be around Giacomo Margherita. Although Giacomo is a middle-class immigrant whose financial situation is not good at all, he enters London's high society somehow and makes good friends with his very stylish tuxedo that he barely bought and his Italian accent, which sounds cool to the British.
One of these good friends George Johnsonis . Johnson trusts Giacomo's knowledge and talents in the drinking culture and enters into a partnership with Giacomo, investing a significant portion of his fortune in this partnership. The two open a liquor store in London's Haymarket, just beyond the opera house.
Justerini & Brooks (J&B)
The shop opened by the Johnson & Justerini duo trades different drinks to countries such as France and Italy, especially to the high parts of London, and they are quite successful. In 1760, Giacomo retires, transferring his stake in the company to his partner George Johnson, and returns wealthy to Bologna.
If you are wondering what happened to Giacomo's love for Margherita and whether he was able to find a response, I have to say that unfortunately I could not find a source on this subject even though I searched a lot. Anyway, back to our topic.
George Johnson's grandson, Augustus, replaces Giacomo Justerini and business continues to grow. In 1761, Johnson & Justerini becomes a supplier of wine at the coronation and wedding of King George III. Like this “Royal Warrant” wins the title.
In the following years, an aristocrat named Alfred Brooks buys the Johnson & Justerini company. Alfred Brooks renamed the firm by keeping the surname of founder Giacomo Justerini fixed and adding his own initial. Justerini & Brooks (J&B) changes to (1831).
While Justerini & Brooks has been a wine-focused company since its establishment, it gradually shifted its focus to whiskey, which became increasingly popular in those years. The path of Justerini & Brooks, one of the inventors of the column still and considered the father of blend whiskey. Andrew Usher intersects with. As the creator of the first blend whiskey, Old Vatted Glenlivet, Usher is commissioned to create the Justerini & Brooks blend.
The Justerini & Brooks blend created by Usher becomes a remarkable whiskey in the market with its soft and elegant character. “Club” Also known as whiskey, this blend will form the basis of the brand's iconic bottle, J&B Rare, in the coming years.
American Market and J&B Rare
The growing American whiskey market and the serious success of its arch-rival Cutty Sark in this market draws the attention of Justerini & Brooks. There was a great interest in soft whiskeys in America at that time, which meant a great opportunity for Justerini & Brooks.
Justerini & Brooks wants to perfect their “Club” formula even further and knocks on the door of Charlie Julian, a blender who also works at Chivas Regal. Based on the Charlie “Club” formula, he creates a blend of 42 whiskeys with Speyside malts at the center. The name of the blend first Justerini & Brooks Rare then it takes its present form and J&B Rare happens (1930s).
Justerini & Brooks tries to enter the market in "different" ways during the prohibition era (1920-32) in America. In fact, he is a close friend of the Anderson family, who was then under the management of Justerini & Brooks. Eddie TathamHe is arrested for supplying liquor. Eddie, who is friends with many famous names and actors and is known for his charisma, becomes the director of the brand in the following years and plays a leading role in J&B's success in America.
Rat Pack & Cinema Effect
Undoubtedly, one of the most important factors in the creation of the brand image that brought J&B to today and its increasing success over the years is that we have seen the J&B bottle in the hands of many iconic famous names over the years. At the beginning of these names, the world-famous group that emerged in the 1960s Rat Pack is coming.
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. This famous group featuring icons such as Las Vegas is known for its spectacular shows. One of the most frequently consumed drinks of the team, which is known for their constant partying and crazy entertainment in addition to their stage shows, is J&B Rare. In particular, it is possible to see J&B Rare, a favorite of Dean Martin, in many of Martin's films, stage shows and stills from his daily life.
It is not difficult to guess why a whiskey that is always in the hands of Dean Martin, one of the coolest people not only of the period, but also of history, is popular…
J&B Rare also appears frequently in Italian cinema of the 1960s and 70s. I think it would not be wrong to attribute this to the fact that the founder of the brand, Giacomo Justerini, is Italian.
When we look at Hollywood, which we can show as the center of world cinema, J&B Rare frequently takes the stage in iconic productions such as Scarface, The Sopranos, Goodfellas and Mad Men.
Today, as in the past, J&B is among the best-selling and most popular whiskey brands. J&B is one of the first brands to be visited by those who are new to whiskey with its affordable price and soft character. At the same time, it is an indispensable whiskey for "ex-drinkers" with its unchanging character and iconic image.
J&B is also positioned today as a “cocktail” whiskey. With its light and soft character, it is preferred in many new generation recipes as well as in classic cocktails. We see that the brand includes a lot of cocktails in its communications and shares different recipes.
In addition to J&B Rare, the brand's honey-flavored drink J&B Urban Honey and a 12-year blend J&B Jet as well as bottling.
I'll end my article with a nostalgic J&B Rare bottle from the 80's, I guess, at my father's bar…
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To my post “All About Blended Whiskeys” here. .
All Blend whiskey tasting notes here. .
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