The extraordinary story of Benedictine
Bénédictine began during the renaissance period when Dom Bernardo Vincelli, a monk of Venetian origin, joined the Bénédictine Abbey in Fécamp, Normandy, and in 1510 concocted a medicinal elixir using 27 different plants and spices.
“On my word as a gentleman! I have never tasted better” - King François the 1st was said to have exclaimed after having tasted the cordial during a visit to Fécamp.
Throughout the 16th century, up until the French Revolution, the Bénédictine monks continued to elaborate upon the elixir until the abbey closed in 1791, when it seemed the secret was to fall into oblivion… However, immediately following the French Revolution a certain Prosper-Elie Covillard, fiscal prosecutor for Fécamp, acquired several manuscripts saved from the abbey’s destruction. He places them on his bookshelves and promptly forgets them…
Half a century later in 1863, Alexandre Le Grand, a descendant of Covillard, finds Dom Bernardo Vincelli’s arcane writings. Being a wine and spirits merchant, this joyful inventor is immediately intrigued by the monk’s elixir recipes. After deciphering the texts, he sets about creating a liqueur in his laboratory which he then baptises Bénédictine. Its impact with his customers is staggering. Sniffing the scent of imminent success, Alexandre decides to officially register his trademark and with absolute confidence introduces Bénédictine to the entire world.
In 1864, 28,000 bottles have already been sold. But he doesn’t stop there - Alexandre Le Grand has a secret weapon: the “advert”! Ten years later, the production reaches almost 150,000 flasks. In June 1876 it is high time to form a company, which is of course baptised Bénédictine S.A., and is seeded with a capital of 2.2 million francs. Then in 1882, Alexandre Le Grand decides to erect a distillery in a very unusual place – a palace. Visitors would be able to see the liqueurs’ elaboration, and also discover a veritable art museum with Le Grand’s personal collection being on display.
Combining business with pleasure from industry to art is a first in the marketing world. The palace was inaugurated in 1888, but was unfortunately destroyed by fire four years later. Alexandre did not give in however, and immediately gave orders for the reconstruction of the palace. His death in 1898 denied him the pleasure of seeing the majestic completion of his palace. His successors inaugurate the edifice on July 29th 1900.
His lineage in all four generations of the Le Grand family, ensures the prolongation of Alexandre Le Grand’s works before the relay is taken by the Bacardi-Martini group. By belonging to this group – ranking fourth world-wide in the wines and spirits field – Bénédictine and B & B are able to increase their international development and encounter the third millennium with serenity.
Today there are 3.6 million bottles of Bénédictine and B & B that are produced each year, and 95% of them are exported. Europe drinks a quarter of the production and 30% of sales are made to South-East Asia. And throughout the world, Bénédictine is classed, amid four other French names, with the ten first ranking international trade-marks.
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