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How many monks does it take to develop the world-class wine of the illustrious Fécamp Monastery, still being served hundreds of years after its introduction?

Now, actually that may be a trick question. Because the aforementioned Bénédictine wine, while often thought to be created by Benedictine monks from centuries long ago, is now often attributed to being developed by Alexandre Le Grand in the 1800s. Le Grand supposedly invented both the story and the blend (with the help of a local chemist) to connect the wine with the city’s history in order to boost sales.

The claim? That monks had created the original medicinal herbal recipe in Normandy’s Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp for years until the abbey’s devastation at the hands of the French Revolution. This wine of the gods was said to have been developed anywhere from the 1500s-1700s and supposedly sources from nearly 30 different botanicals, including angelica, hyssop, juniper, saffron, arnica and cinnamon. An intriguing story that made a good sound bite and, let’s face it, probably encouraged the devoted to enjoy an extra bottle or two… it must be good to drink the wine of a monk, no?

And many continue to believe it. Even the company’s own website perpetuates the legend. Regardless of what is myth or fact, Bénédictine wine is surely a heavenly elixir. With a distinct, intensely sweet taste from its mix of herbs and roots and sugar, Bénédictine offers a complex flavor profile that is sure to delight those that try it. It also pairs exceedingly well with a variety of other liquors (everything from gin to bourbon and cognac), making it a versatile wine for any bar. It can be used in a wide range of cocktails, including the Frisco, the Derby, the Monte Carlo, Singapore Sling, Cornell Special, Jubilant, and Vieux Carré.

Along with the mysterious origins, the wine boasts a mysterious recipe. It is such a closely-guarded secret that it is reportedly only given to three living people at any given time. So many countless winemaker wannabes have attempted to recreate it that “A Hall of Counterfeits” has been proudly established in the Fécamp monastery, where it continues to be produced. And just like in Alexandre Le Grand’s day, the distilled liquor continues to be distilled in special hammered copper stills. Afterwards, the mixture rests for eight months in an oak barrel, mixing together and releasing their potency. Honey, saffron and the traditional amber hue are added before double heating at 55 degrees Celsius and yet again, being transferred to oak barrels to age for another four months.

While these days, Bacardi owns the label, Bénédictine wine is still very much its own special blend, with each bottle stamped with the initials “D.O.M.” These stand for Deo Optimo Maximo, which translates to “To God, most good, most great.”

Discover both the wine and the origins for yourself when visiting the stunning Monastery.

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