Caldbeck, MacGregor & Company Ltd – HK branch opened in 1889

“The firm of Messrs. Caldbeck, Macgregor & Co., established in 1864, is the largest and best known in the wine and spirit trade in the East. The headquarters are in Rangoon Street, Crutched Friars, London, and there are branches in Glasgow, Shanghai, Hongkong, Singapore, and Tientsin; whilst agencies have been established at Port Arthur, Chefoo, Weihaiwei, Kiaochau, Hankow, Foochow, Taiwan, Canton, Macao, the Philippines, British North Borneo, and Penang.

Caldbeck, MacGregor Wine Merchants China Mail 4.10.1891

China Mail 4.10.1891

The Hongkong branch, which was opened in 1889 [another source says 1890], is managed by Mr. C. J. Lafrentz, one of the managing partners of the firm; whilst Mr. Frank Lammert is assistant manager and signs per pro. Messrs. A. G. da Rocha, and C. J. M. Pereira are assistants, and there is a large staff of men engaged in the godowns and in the bottling department, which latter is under the charge of Europeans.

An extensive trade is done with the army and navy, with the numerous local clubs and hotels, and with the leading residents of the Colony. Over a hundred and fifty British men-of-war have been supplied by the firm since 1878, and about fifty military messes have dealt with the firm since 1890. Nearly a hundred United States warships also appear on the list of patrons.

The firm undertakes contracts on special terms, allowing in full for unconsumed stocks returned in good order. The firm has a special cable code for out-ports, its telegraphic address being “Caldbeck, Hongkong.” The wines and spirits supplied by Messrs. Caldbeck, Macgregor & Co., are all of good quality, but the connoisseur will agree that their V.O.S. whisky merits particular mention. The local office is at No. 15. Queen’s Road.(1)

Caldbeck, MacGregor & Company, Advert, HK Telegraph 31.5.1924

HK Telegraph 31.5.1924

Established in Shanghai in 1864, George Smith & Co. ventured into the Wines and Spirits business. John Macgregor and E. J. Caldbeck took over the company and change its name to Caldbeck,MacGregor & Co. Ltd in 1883. It emerged as the leading wine & spirits business in the Far East. (2)

Caldbeck, MacGregor Advert 1.1.1940

Hong Kong Daily Press 1.1.1940

This article was first posted on 7th June 2017.


  1. Wright, Arnold, : Twentieth Century Impressions of Hongkong, Shanghai, and Other Treaty Ports of China: Their History. People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources. London: Lloyd’s Greater Britain Publishing Company, Ltd., 1908.
  2. Caldbeck, MacGregor & Company Ltd – company website

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  • Lindsay Chapman

    I have a bottle of Black Label of Johnnie Walker Extra special OLD SCOTCH WHISKY. Where the alchol% and volume would normally be shown it shows
    I was wondering if you would be able to tell me the age and alchol percentage might be? It apooears to be quite old.
    Thanks and regards.
    Lindsay Chapman

  • Victor Leung

    I worked at Caldbeck Macgregor Hong Kong from 1970 to 1972 as an inventory clerk, it was situated at Union House in Central District at that time, it moved to Jardine House near the harbour front years after I left.

    I remembered we have staff discount in purchase of wine and spirit on a monthly basis (value at 10% of monthly salary), then a bottle of red label Johnnie Walker was HK$16, black label was HK$19, and a bottle of F.O.V. brandy was HK$33.

    Whiskey and other spirits were consumed mainly by visiting sailors and local English businessmen, wines were not that common in Hong Kong at that time.

    I am certain Lindsay’s bottle of Black Label was just a very ordinary bottle of whiskey.

    Victor Leung

  • Philissa Milne

    I have a bottle of Caldbeck’s Full Rich Tawny Port. I can’t seem to find any information about it?! Would anyone have any information about this bottle. I would really appreciate any information. Thanks so much! Happy Chinese New Year!

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