Monday, 3 August 2009

Bénédictine

Bénédictine was created by Dom Bernardo Vincelli - a Venetian monk at the Abbey of Fécamp, from 27 plants and spices. The elixir was highly regarded in the court of King François I, and the drink was produced by the Benedictine monks up until the end of the 18th century. However, in the turmoil of the French Revolution, the recipe was almost lost forever. In 1791, a Fécamp notable bought the 16th century manuscript containing the formula for the elixir. In his ignorance of the secret held within, he put it away into his library and forgot about it. In 1863, Alexandre Le Grand, a distant relation of the Fécamp notable, came across the book by chance and discovered the secret recipe. He modernised the recipe and began production.

The recipe is a closely guarded trade secret, ostensibly known to only three people at any given time. So many people have tried (and failed) to reproduce it that the company maintains on its grounds in Fécamp a "Hall of Counterfeits" (Salon de Contrefaçons) displaying bottles of the failed attempts.

Strangely enough Burnley Miners' Club in Lancashire is the world's biggest single consumer of Bénédictine, after the Lancashire Regiments acquired a taste for it during the First World War!

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