Maison Lillet

France

Jean Lillet moved to Podensac, a small village of the Graves wine region, near Sauternes, in 1680. In 1872, his descendants Raymond and Paul Lillet funded Maison Lillet. They created the first and only aperitif from Bordeaux, the Lillet (called Kina Lillet until the 1970s), a blend of wines and fruit macerations crafted in Podensac cellars. In the 20s and 30s, Lillet was served on very special occasions, soon becoming the aperitif in vogue all over the world. In 1937, Lillet’s first major advertising campaign was designed for the American market. After the Second World War, the small family-run company decided to focus on exporting the brand to the US market. Lillet became the star drink of every trendy New York bar. The Anglo-Saxon market really took off in 1945 with the launch of Lillet Dry, which could be mixed with gin or served in cocktails and inspired the famous Vesper. In 1962, it was Pierre Lillet who expanded the range by adding Lillet Rouge, a stronger, ruby coloured alternative to its white counterpart, which appealed to Lillet fans and red wine lovers alike. The Lillet brand acquired a new lease of life on the French market in 1985 with the organisation of numerous tasting sessions in Bordeaux and Paris and a more modern and sophisticated design for the bottle. In 1995, Lillet won the gold medal at the International Wine Competition, confirming its quality once again. In 1999, Lillet became one of the 100 top-selling brands in France. The 21st century has seen Lillet go from strength to strength, with ever more countries discovering the brand. Connoisseurs and mixologists ensure that Lillet features in all top cocktail bars around the world, leading to the launch of Lillet Rosé in 2011, which immediately won the Chairman’s Trophy at the Ultimate Beverage Challenge.

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