A brandy-based liqueur with a secret herb formula produced by Benedictine monks in France and in Spain. This unique elixir is comprised of 27 plants and spices – an extremely intricate recipe that is only known by three people at any given time. The three primary spices include Angelica, Hyssop and Lemon Balm, also known as Melissa. The ingredients are divided into different recipes, each for a separate batch which is macerated, distilled or infused with vanilla and lemon peels. The batches are aged for three months before being blended together with the base spirit. The newly created batch is then aged in the Bénédictine Palais, where conditions are ideal, for 12 months. Bénédictine is filtered for purity and then aged an additional three months. At the end of the two-year process, the liqueur is ready to be enjoyed.
An Iconic Liqueur with 500 years of history
The History: 500 Years of Twists and Turns
This authentically French spirit was created in 1510 by a Bénédictine monk who passed the recipe down through his successors until it was lost in 1789 when the monks were forced to flee the country during the French Revolution. Nearly a century later, in 1863, the recipe was discovered by Alexandre Le Grand, who recreated the extraordinary liqueur and consecrated it to God as “D.O.M. Bénédictine” – the “D.O.M.” is short for the Latin phrase “Deo Optimo Maximo” meaning “To God, Most God, Most Great.”
The Recipe: A Closely Guarded Secret
By 1864, approximately 28,000 bottles of Bénédictine had been sold, prompting Alexandre Le Grand to register the brand as a trademark so that the recipe could not be copied our counterfeited, although many have tried. Through the centuries, so many have attempted to recreate this alluring liqueur that Bénédictine has a full “Hall of Counterfeits” dedicated to them. This unique elixir is comprised of 27 plants and spices – an extremely intricate recipe that is only known by three people at any given time.
The Palace: A Distillery, A Museum, An Art Gallery
By 1882, approximately 150,000 bottles of Bénédictine had been produced and sold throughout the world. In 1886, Le Grand erected a palatial factory, where visitors could enjoy seeing Bénédictine’s meticulous creation as well as intricately beautiful architecture. Two years later it was destroyed in a fire, but was quickly restored to its former glory, and then some. The Bénédictine Palace is quite a unique structure, housing a distillery, a museum and even a contemporary art gallery within its 30,000 square meters. A showpiece for the Bénédictine brand, the palace was conceived of by Camille Albert and inaugurated in 1900. The architecture is a unique mix of gothic and renaissance.
The cellars of the palace house hundreds of oak casks with the ideal aging conditions for Bénédictine liqueur. Every bottle of Bénédictine is created and bottled at the distillery, as it is the only place in the world with the perfect conditions to create Bénédictine.
The Distillation Process: A Fine Art
The intense and meticulous distillation process begins with the weighing and separation of all 27 spices in four batches. Two of these batches have vanilla and lemon peel added for flavor. These two batches are infused and distilled for four to six months. All four batches are aged for an additional three months before being combined into one batch complete batch, which is aged for another eight months.
After the eight month aging process Saffron, Cognac, Otard, Honey and Caramel are added before another four month aging process begins. Before the product is honored with the Bénédictine name, it is filtered and quality tested. From start to finish, the distillation process for one bottle of Bénédictine takes two years.
The final product is a distinctive blend of liqueur with a very mellow feel that envelops the whole palate. Notes of citrus, spice and honey give Bénédictine a perfectly balanced, one of a kind taste.
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