J&B Rare is one of the highest selling Scotch whiskies in the world. Its key markets are in Southern Europe, South Africa and the United States.
Long-established London wine merchants Justerini & Brooks introduced J&B Rare in 1936. Charles Guttman (1893 – 1969) of the Paddington Corporation was the United States distributor, and he initially established the brand in the New York area.
An export only brand, J&B Rare was designed to appeal to the American taste for rye whiskey, with a straw-gold body, and a light, smooth, delicate character.
Back in London, Justerini & Brooks merged with Twiss, Brownings & Hallowes to form United Wine Traders in 1952.
Abe Rosenberg (1908 – 1985) became a partner in the Paddington Corporation from the mid-1950s, and he began to expand J&B Rare distribution outside of its New York heartland into the wider United States.
J&B Rare would compete fiercely with Cutty Sark, another Scotch whisky tailored for the American market which had been introduced by Berry Brothers, wine merchants of London, in 1923.
United Wine Traders merged with Gilbeys to become International Vintners & Distillers from 1962. Gilbeys’ strong international distribution network helped to establish J&B Rare in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and Ireland.
Blended and bottled at Strathleven, near Glasgow, J&B Rare commanded a slightly higher than average price.
J&B became the highest selling Scotch in the United States, with one million cases exported in 1962. A large proportion of sales were still made in the New York area.
Two million cases of J&B Rare were exported to America in 1967. J&B Rare was exported to 84 countries.
2.7 million cases of J&B Rare were sold in 1971, accounting for a substantial 55 percent of IDV profits.
J&B Rare was the highest selling Scotch in America in 1974, followed by Cutty Sark, Dewars and Johnnie Walker. Rising sales of J&B Rare helped to make Grand Metropolitan the second largest distiller of branded Scotch whisky in the world by 1977. J&B had ten percent of the global Scotch whisky market. Justerini & Brooks were awarded with a Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1978.
In 1983 J&B Rare contained up to 50 percent malt whisky, similar to Johnnie Walker Black Label.
J&B Rare was the second highest selling Scotch whisky in the world by 1988.
J&B Rare was the highest-selling Scotch whisky in Spain by 1990.
The heart malts in the blend are Knockando, Auchroisk, Strathmill and Glen Spey.