Milroy’s of Soho was founded by John ‘Jack’ Milroy and his brother Wallace in 1964. Opening its doors on the bustling Greek Street, in the heart of London’s swinging-sixties Soho district, Milroy’s sold fine wine, whisky and champagne. This was the world of the Mods, Twiggy and the Rolling Stones. Epicures flooded to this cultural powder keg, seeking a taste of ‘modern’ music, fashion and of course the wines and spirits that fueled the era.
It seems fitting that in this age of pioneers, Milroy’s would be at the forefront of their own whisky revolution. In a market dominated by blends, the Milroy brothers saw the potential in Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and made this their focus. They had the largest whisky selection in London to serve the public and even the highest echelons of the British Government.
John Milroy, went on to bottle many whiskies under his own name, and before long Milroy’s was established as a whisky institution. By the time John sold his ‘John Milroy Selection’ brand to Berry Bros. & Rudd in 2009, the name had become synonymous with quality far beyond the UK.
The Milroy Brothers
Born in Dumfries, the brothers grew up supporting their family-run pub. By their early teens, whisky became their natural forte, tasting the pub’s range by extracting liquid from bottles without damaging the seals in the pub cellars. Turning this mischief into a learning experience, they acquired the ability to differentiate between several blends at this tender age. This talent was essential to go on to build a global brand with a reputation for selling the largest selection of whisky.
WALLACE MILROY - Wallace Milroy provided the initial capital to set up Milroy’s, returning to England a successful gold miner in South Africa. His love of whisky didn’t leave him, and he went on to write the still revered ‘Malt Whisky Almanac’ and ‘Whisky In Your Pocket’. In April 1989 Wallace was inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich, rising to the rank of Master a decade later. Wallace sadly passed away in December 2016.
JOHN MILROY - John Milroy’s career started at Kettner’s Wine Shop (now sadly closed). This gave him the experience he needed to start his own shop in London’s Soho district – Milroy’s of Soho, which remains at No.3 Greek Street to this day. In recognition of his contribution to the growth of Scotch whisky, John was presented with a life-time achievement award and entered the Hall of Fame at the Icons of Whisky in 2010.
The John Milroy Range
Doug McIvor, Spirits Buyer at Berry Bros. & Rudd and lifelong friend of John Milroy, worked for Milroy’s in the 1990s. Learning his trade from the Milroy’s themselves, he now bears the responsibility and honor of continuing to select only the most exceptional single cask whiskies in the world to bottle under the ‘John Milroy Selection’ label.
“The spirits that we bottle under the ‘The John Milroy Selection’ label, are – I think – rather special. There is no mass production, no standardization, purely a ‘moment’. I don’t look for famous names, but for balance and complexity, maturity and texture – for excellence. It doesn’t matter to me whether a cask differs from a distillery’s ‘house’ style; non-conforming casks can sometimes be the greatest. Equally, age is not king: maturity counts for much more. While there is beauty in a cask that, over time, has breathed its youthful vigor to the angels, embracing the oak to find harmony and great balance; the oldest may not be the most complex, the most perfectly poised.
There are no rules to this range: but each spirit in this collection has a unique story. They are all natural in colour and whenever possible we avoid chill-filtering in order to preserve their authentic expression of a place, time or person. These whiskies are – we believe – esoteric and extraordinary spirits.”
Doug McIvor, Spirits Buyer