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The recipe and the distillation lay unseen for decades, until a wealthy entrepreneur called Alexandre le Grand bought a plot of land with some buildings near the beach in Fecamp.
He also acquired a library in one of the buildings and, quietly browsing through the collection of books, stumbled upon the ancient tome that included the drink recipe, now some 350 years old.
Alexandre also built a museum for the relics unearthed with the recipe book, which is where I meet Benedictine’s resident archivist Sebastien to hear this incredible story.
I’m shown original documents from King Philip, Alexandre’s doodles for the iconic bottle design, hundreds of hilarious ersatz versions of the bottle created by international wannabes, as well as those fascinating bits chiselled off saints.
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Benedictine adds a glossy depth to cocktails, as well as Burnley’s beloved Bene’n’hot (essentially hot water, a measure of Benedictine and a slice of lemon).
He got to work in his ecclesiastical laboratory in 1510, blending and distilling a heady mix of herbs and spices until he was satisfied.
The recipe was written down in a huge book and kept under lock and key in Fecamp Abbey, alongside priceless relics.
Benedicitine is one of the world’s oldest liqueurs.
Made with a blend of 27 herbs and spices, it was in vogue during the Belle Epoque, post-Absinthe-crazy Paris, and lascivious opium dens of Edwardian London.