"Whitehall Palace burnt down in the year we were founded," says one of the shop's Masters of Wine and sales director Demetri Walters. "It had been the largest palace in Europe. William of Orange had to stuff his entourage into that little tiny palace over there."Walters gestures over at St. James' Palace, less than 200 metres away."It was entirely unsatisfactory for him but it was great for us because look how close we are," he adds. "A little fledgling business suddenly had the King and all his entourage buying tea, coffee, spices snuff, tobacco, cocoa, plus wine plus spirits here. We were the cornershop!"
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Berry Bros. may sound like a secret society but there's nothing sinister about it. When you're in business for over three centuries, it seems you can do a lot of networking. Which just leaves one last question: what's the secret to their longevity?"There's a lot to be said for being a family business because it gives you a long view on the business: they want to have something to pass on," Walters shrugs. "We aim to be a world authority on wine. If you have a small, catholic, conventional list, then you can't do that, but if you've only got weird and wacky wines, then you're not offering something that's good to drink. We have 5000 different wines and a thousand different spirits from all over the world. They're wines that keep us solvent, wines that represent our authority and open-mindedness, and last of all, wines that people want."
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