The 500-Year-Old Trade Secret: A Short History of Ancient Alcohol

The Force Was Not with These Three Star Wars LawsuitsDistilleries are known for being businesses where trade secrets are a critical matter of importance. Building a brand in the alcoholic beverage industry requires these businesses to be unique while retaining a reputation for unmatched quality.

Take for example Bénédictine, the world-famous French liqueur. A monk named Dom Bernardo Vincelli created the recipe in 1510, using the Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy to produce the liqueur. Bénédictine was produced up until the Benedictine Abbey was destroyed in the chaos of the French Revolution. In 1863, Alexandre le Grand found the recipe and created a company to distill the liqueur. The recipe, which contains 27 plants and spices, remains a closely guarded trade secret. It is rumored that only three people know the recipe at any given time. Over the years, individuals of fame and fortune have made Bénédictine a favorite drink. Before quitting alcohol in 1986, George W. Bush regularly consumed B&B, a mixture of Bénédictine and brandy.

Chartreuse is another French liqueur with a recipe shrouded in mystery. Carthusian monks created this famous liqueur in 1605 from a combination of 132 secret extracts. The liqueur has enjoyed immense success over the last several centuries, becoming a favorite among connoisseurs. As a closely guarded trade secret, only a handful of monks are responsible for production.

Why Trade Secrets Are Important

Both of these examples can teach us a great deal about the importance of trade secrets. Bénédictine and Chartreuse are known as quality products worldwide. Many people have attempted to recreate Bénédictine, only to be put in the “Hall of Counterfeits” on distillery property. Trade secrets are the personality of a business, giving a product a unique character that cannot be recreated by others. If other people knew how Chartreuse and Bénédictine were created, the companies would not be as successful.

When another individual or company attempts to steal and sell trade secrets, it is time to “lawyer up”. Business litigation attorneys can and will go after counterfeiters and protect the lifeblood of your business.

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