J & B Rare Blended Scotch: a timeless classic from 1932 has matured into the World’s Party Whisky

Inspired by an Italian, created in London and distilled in Scotland, J&B Rare Blended Scotch Whisky remains a global best seller nearly 90 years since it was first launched.

Justerini & Brooks is the oldest, continuous fine Wine Merchant in Britain, historically supplying Aristocratic households and was granted a Royal Warrant by George III, an honour which it still retains today.

This most inspiring story began in 1749 when Giacomo Justerini, who worked in is family distillery,  moved from Bologna, Italy to London in pursuit of an opera singer, Margherita Bellino.

While romance failed to blossom, he secured business investment from George Johnson, to establish Johnson and Justerini, Purveyers of Wines and Spirits at No. 2 Pall Mall. Fast forward a few decades and Alfred Brooks purchased the business, now renamed Justerini & Brooks.

As well as the Royal Household, among their prestigious clientele over the centuries was the novelist, Charles Dickens. 

With entrepreneurial, far sighted vision, during the Prohibition era, the company sent Eddie Tatham to the United States to check out the potential market for a speciality Scotch Whisky.  Justerini & Brooks then began to craft a distinctive blended whisky, specifically to appeal to the American palate and in competition to Cutty Sark. Cleverly branded as J&B Rare Scotch, to express its exclusive, premium quality, it was launched in 1932, the year before Prohibition was repealed.

The start of major export trade of J&B Rare Scotch to the USA, 1936

J&B Rare is distilled, blended and bottled in Scotland: a blend of 42 malt and grain whiskies, the heart is formed from the finest Speyside single malts: Knockando, Auchroisk, Strathmill and Glen Spey, expertly blended to create an approachable, rich and complex flavour. The round, fruity, unique and distinctive taste of the fine malt whiskies is delicately balanced by carefully chosen grain whiskies which gives J&B Rare its distinctive character.

The Dram Test:

With no preconceptions of aroma and flavour, I sampled a blind tasting, served neat.

Nose: Dried fruit, damson, prunes, tobacco smoke

Palate: Sherry, rich fruitiness, treacle, a hint of ginger

Finish: Smooth, elegant texture, lingering oak wood and cinnamon

J&B Rare certainly excites the taste buds with refreshing fruity flavours and rich spicy aftertaste.

Walnut, toffee apples, cedar wood, orange zest.

Apples, oranges, kiwis, summer berries, caramel and vanilla.

Fresh, grassy and nutty on the nose, malt, spice, fruit salad and sweet grains on the palate.

Fruity, aromatic, soft apple and pear and just a hint of smoke. 

Layers of rich vanilla balanced with lively notes of fresh fruit and spice.

With its versatile, well rounded, mellow character, serve on the rocks or for a refreshing long drink, with a mixer such as Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water or Ginger Ale.

J&B Rare Scotch with Tonic Water for a refreshing drink

Their eye catching Advertisements published widely in the media through the 1950s and 1960s, reflected a glamorous, modern high society; in 1963, J&B Rare sold over one million cases each year as the number one selling Scotch in the United States. Creative marketing.

Long before Influencers on Twitter, the fashionable Scotch received wide celebrity promotion as the drink of choice by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Cary Grant and Truman Capote et al; the smooth style with soft smoky notes has always been perfect for Cocktails.

The J&B Sinatra Sour

What could be a better tribute to Frankie than this harmoniously bittersweet cocktail.

The J&B Sinatra Sour. 

35 ml J&B Rare, 10 ml lemon juice, 10 ml Sugar syrup, 15 ml egg white, 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters  

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add all ingredients and shake well for at least a minute. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with Maraschino cherries.

The J&B Ginger Ale Twist

J&B Ginger Ale Twist

In this signature recipe, the whisky is enhanced with a spicy kick.

50 ml J&B Rare, 125 ml Ginger Ale, 4 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitter (optional), lime wedge

Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the J&B Rare, Ginger ale and Angostura Bitters, a squeeze of lime juice and wedge as a garnish.

The Rusty Nail cocktail – J&B Rare Scotch + Drambuie

J&B Rusty Nail

The Rusty Nail is credited to the bartenders at the 21 Club, Manhattan in the early 1960s, and quickly endorsed by Gina MacKinnon of the Drambuie Liqueur Company. The cocktail was popular at P. J. Clarke’s, a favourite late-night haunt of Frank Sinatra.  The brand name Drambuie is derived from the Gaelic, meaning ‘the drink that satisfies’, and this cocktail does too with its honey sweetness.

35 ml J&B Rare, 15 ml Drambuie

Pour the ingredients over ice in a rocks glass.

The Godfather cocktail

The Godfather 

 25 ml J&B Rare, 25 ml Amaretto liqueur 

Serve with ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a cherry.

Best-known for his novella ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, Truman Capote was flamboyant, unpredictable and a huge fan of J&B Rare. However, with his theatrically camp manner, he would never ask a bar tender for a ‘J&B’, but instead preferred the formal, full name of the distiller, to request a ‘Justerini and Brooks’.

While his fave tipple may not have been sipped by Audrey Hepburn at Tiffany’s in the movie, it has a starring role in the 1982 classic The Thing, which features regular ‘shots’ of J&B Rare at the Research station.

J&B, product placement in ‘The Thing’

In a memorable scene in Scarface, Tony Montana (Pacino) approaches Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer), with the chat up line, “Why don’t we have a couple of drinks and just take it easy. I like Scotch,”  Elvira pours two glasses of J&B on the rocks, with the bottle design complementing her emerald green swimsuit.

The iconic J&B whisky drinking scene from ‘Scarface’

Spot the famous green bottle too in such iconic films as  “Shampoo,” “Moonstruck,” and “M.A.S.H.”

The colourful, cultural heritage of Justerini & Brooks from British Royalty patronage to Rat Pack and Hollywood promotion is a pioneering success story. Known today as the world’s ‘Party Whisky’, J&B Rare Blended Scotch is as cool, classic and fashionable today as it was in the swinging Sixties.

Perhaps we should follow Truman’s sassy style and ask for a Justerini & Brooks ?

Uisge Beatha!

More information:

J&B Rare Blended Scotch is widely available from Waitrose, amazon.co.uk, thewhiskyexchange.com masterofmalt.com and Justerini & Brooks

Justerini & Brooks Ltd. Wine and Spirit Merchants

61 St James’s Street London SW1A 1LZ

14 Alva St, Edinburgh EH2 4QG


Justerini & Brooks, 61 St. James Street, London

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About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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