Bénédictine is a herbal liqueur produced in France. Flavored with some twenty-seven flowers, berries, herbs, roots, and spices, it was developed by wine merchant Alexandre Le Grand in the 19th century, and marketed as having been derived from an original recipe of Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy lost in the ashes of the French Revolution.
A drier version, B&B, blending Bénédictine with brandy, was developed in the 1930s.
In the 19th century Alexandre Le Grand invented a recipe for an herbal liqueur, helped by a local chemist. To market it, he concocted a story of it having been developed by monks at the Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy, and produced until the abbey's devastation during the French Revolution. He began production under the trade name "Bénédictine", using a bottle with a distinguishing shape and label. To reinforce his myth, he placed the abbreviation "D.O.M." on the label, for "Deo Optimo Maximo" ("To God, most good, most great"), used at the beginning of documents by the Benedictine Order to dedicate their work. Much of the Bénédictine drunk outside of France is consumed in the Burnley area of England, due to soldiers from the East Lancashire Regiment getting a taste for the drink while fighting in the First World War and sheltering at the Abbey, which was being used as a hospital at the time.
The recipe is a closely guarded trade secret, purportedly known to only three people at any given time. So many people have tried to reproduce it that the company maintains on its grounds in Fécamp a "Hall of Counterfeits" (Salle des Contrefaçons). The bottle and label have been imitated, as has the name Bénédictine. The company prosecutes those it feels are infringing on its intellectual property.
The manufacturing process involves several distillations which are then blended. The recipe of Bénédictine is a commercial secret, but it is known to contain 27 herbs and spices, of which the following 21 are publicly known: Angelica, hyssop, juniper, myrrh, saffron, mace, fir cones, aloe, arnica, lemon balm, tea, thyme, coriander, clove, lemon, vanilla, orange peel, honey, red berries, cinnamon, and nutmeg; leaving six unknown ingredients.
The same company also produces "B & B" (or Bénédictine and Brandy), developed in the 1930s in response to a shift in taste toward drier (less sweet) liqueurs, simply by blending Bénédictine with brandy. Originally both products were 43% alcohol by volume (86 proof), but are now 40% alcohol (80 proof).
In 1977 the company introduced a 30% alcohol (60 proof) coffee liqueur which was called Café Bénédictine, a blend of Bénédictine and a coffee-flavoured liqueur, but it has been discontinued. The company also produces Bénédictine Single Cask, which comes in a unique black bottle and is only available at the Palais de la Bénédictine's store in Fécamp, Normandy, France.
- Interview, Le Palais bénédictine de Fécamp, FR3 – Normandie.
- "Benedictine". Liquor.com. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
- Harold J. Grossman and Harriet Lembeck, Grossman's Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits (6th edition). Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1977, pp. 377–8. ISBN 0-684-15033-6
- Jean Pierre Lantaz, Bénédictine, d'une bonne grosse teube à cinq continents, éditions Bertout 1991.
- Stéphane Nappez, Le palais Bénédictine, éditions PTC 2005