There was a certain Benedictine monk from Abbey of Fécamp, France, named Dom Bernardo Vincelli that created a recipe that featured twenty-seven different plants and spices. The three main ingredients going into this French liqueur are Angelica, Hyssop, and Lemon Balm. The intent behind this elixir was to promote good health, hence the reasoning behind the mixture of herbs and spices that went into its creation. The overall reception of the Benedictine monk’s recipe was so well received that it maintained its production level all the way up until the French Revolution. Due to the chaos that erupted during this time period, the authentic recipe to the original Benedictine liqueur was perceived lost. Then, in 1863, Alexandre le Grand from Fecamp happened to stumble upon the recipe in his library and sought to resurrect it. After attempting for a year to recreate the mysterious elixir, le Grand’s efforts finally paid off. The wine trader named the liqueur Benedictine to honor the monk, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, who created this masterpiece three hundred years prior. Afterward, he built the Palais Benedictine in Fecamp that has been serving as the liqueur’s distillation house. According to Liquor.com’s website, only three people actually know the complete recipe to the authentic Benedictine Liqueur, which needs to be aged up to seventeen months before bottling. It wasn’t until 1888 before the brand was first imported to the United States of America. Benedictine has become a favorite distilled spirit on a worldwide level, thanks to the herbal and spiced blend of sweetness that has been key to producing some of the best cocktail recipes ever created. In 1905, after Benedictine’s success grew in sales and production, new headquarters were built in Paris on Haussmann Boulevard. Since then, Bacardi-Martini France has ownership of Benedictine and exports three-quarters of its production while one-quarter remains in France. Out of Normandy, the Benedictine souffle and truffles are made and sold there as confectionary products as the liqueur is phenomenally popular in that region.
More About Benedictine
In all honesty, there is only one true Benedictine liqueur. Drambuie is the second-best option when it comes to coming as close as possible to the best-kept secret in liquor-related products. For over four centuries, many have tried in vain to copy whatever it is the Benedictine monk, Dom Bernardo Vincelli did. Until the secret is officially released, the best the rest can do is come as close as they can to the real deal. In so doing, some have done better than others. Although not an official Benedictine liqueur, four out of five contenders on the list can at least make the next best option.
Like the Benedictine, Glayva has a rich history that dates back to 1947 out of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. Originally produced by Ronald Morrison & Co Ltd, it is now owned by White and Mackay Ltd. Glayva uses a blend of aged Scotch whiskeys, a selected range of spices, Mediterranean tangerines, almonds, cinnamon, and honey. The beautiful golden color and distinct flavor make this an ideal substitute for Benedictine. Should a recipe calls for Benedictine liqueur and that can’t be found, Glayva will do the job just fine.
4. Yellow Chartreuse
The Yellow Chartreuse is a French liqueur that features a healthy collection of herbs, just like the Benedictine, and contains the same ABV amount. The blend of anise, citric, honey, licorice, saffron, and violet make this liquor a bit sweeter than the Benedictine original, but it can serve as a suitable replacement in a cocktail that calls for it. It’s also an excellent recipe ingredient for that special dessert. There is also a green version of the Chartreuse that has a slightly higher content at fifty-five percent but shares the same blend of herbal and floral flavor that makes it truly exquisite.
Similar to Benedictine, Drambuie is dark in color and has a honey-sweet herbal flavoring to its liqueur creation. This is a favorite feature of high-end cocktails. However, Benedictine uses a neutral spirit base where the honey is barely noticeable while Dramuie is dominated by the combination of honey and scotch. As mentioned previously, the herbal recipe is kept secret, but saffron has consistently been the most common ingredient used. Benedictine has cedar, citrus, nutmeg, and sage notes cited as a unique herbal liqueur that has no perfect substitution for it. Even the preparation going into distilling this liqueur uses the exact same copper stills that Alexandre le Grand used when producing the Benedictine liqueur in his day. After its distilled, the liquid is aged in oak casks for approximately two years and is stored at the Palais Benedictine. The alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage is forty and is classified as a brandy, which is usually served as a digestif after meals or mixed into cocktail recipes.
2. Dom Bénédictine B&B
Approximately sixty percent of the Dom Benedictine B&B features the original Benedictine recipe, which is then added with forty percent cognac. While the B&B version isn’t quite as strong and sweet as the original version, when it’s mixed into a cocktail, such as the Singapore Sling, it’ll do. However, the B&B is every bit as pricy as the real deal, but if quality matters more than the price tag, this is the next best option to the one hundred percent authentic Benedictine liqueur. The original brainchild behind this mix started in 1937 when Le Palais Benedictine started to produce this mix by blending the original Benedictine liqueur with its cognac brandy. This allowed the flavors to rest and harmonize in small oak barrels that had been previously used to age only the finest cognacs the French ever produced. During the 1930s Prohibition in the United States, it was a barman who originally began mixing brandy with Benedictine, which sparked Le Palais Benedictine to bring forth the Dom Benedictine B&B.
1. Bénédictine D.O.M. Liqueur
The original recipe, Bénédictine D.O.M. Liqueur, is unbeatable. There is absolutely nothing that comes remotely close to the perfection that has gone into the production of this liqueur. Prepared in-house at the Palais Benedictine in Fecamp, Normandy, France, the one and only true Benedictine liqueur comes from this location only. From there, it is distributed worldwide for the sheer delight of consumer consumption. Not only is it a favorite as a liqueur, or as a mix into cocktails in flavor but is also regarded as a health elixir, just as the infamous monk, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, intended it to be. The D.O.M. in the logo stands for Deo Optimo Maximo, which means “To God, most good, most great” when translated into the English language.