The Combier distillery is the oldest in activity in the Loire Valley. Founded in 1834, it has remained anchored ever since on the same plot in the heart of Saumur. From the start, the distillery took full advantage of its position deep in the « Garden of France » to source local produce: fruit, flowers and medicinal plants. More exotic ingredients: spices and citrus fruits would have arrived
on traditional boats from the Atlantic port of Nantes.
1834 - the birth of Triple Sec
This famous liqueur was first made in a single alembic still at the back of the shop set up in 1834 by confectioner Jean-Baptiste Combier and his wife Josephine Destre. Filled with the crystalline liqueur, the Combier-Destre’s bonbon confections became so popular that they decided to leave the sweet shop in 1848 to build a distillery in gardens close by the famous Saumur Cavalry School.
1852 - Entrepreneur and citizen
Politically engaged, Jean-Baptiste Combier was imprisoned during the reign of Napoleon III for his Republican ideals. He shared his radical opinions with a certain Dr François-Vincent Raspail and it was around this time that he perfected the recipe for Elixir Combier an exceptional hygienic liqueur that was to become famous and would secure the success of the distillery throughout the century.
1866 - Combier & Son
James Combier was only 24 years old when he became his father’s associate. Actively engaged in the local community, he would go on to become the first elected Mayor of Saumur. After a thorough apprenticeship he traveled far and wide to source the finest ingredents for his trade. The distillery was to thrive under his direction. He developed new markets both in France and abroad, established a agency in Marseille, secured supplies of exotic fruit and spices and established distribution channels around the world.
1920 – a marriage of orange and spice
Created in 1920, Royal Combier is a judicious blend of L’Original Combier, Elixir Combier and premium cognac. The carefully prepared infusion of spices contributes to the highly aromatic persistence in the mouth. An astonishingly modern liqueur for its times, was perfectly in tune with the festive atmosphere of the roaring twenties.
2000 - Franck Choisne acquires the distillery and instigates a renaissance
Building on its illustrious history and rare craftmanship, supported by a small and tight-knit team, the distillery has prospered slowly but surely. Around 2000, the first bottles of L’Original Combier Triple Sec arrived on the market in the US followed shortly by Royal Combier and Elixir Combier. The warm reception they received there has largely contributed to the success of the distillery in recent years.
2010 – Combier makes history with absinthe
Distillerie Combier began distilling absinthe in 1899 but production abruptly ceased in 1915 when it became illegal. In 2004, determined to revive traditional absinthe, Franck Choisne set out to obtain an amendment to the 1988 decree which forbid the use of fennel in the recipe and prohibited the labeling of the drink as absinthe. It was to be an incredible journey. 6 years on he was successful at long last and absinthe was back. Renowned for its authenticity, absinthe made by Distillerie Combier is distilled in strict accordance with tradition.
2020 - The 21st century distillery
To firmly establish the distillery in the new century and allow it to remain in the heart of historical Saumur, Distillerie Combier has acquired the Manège Bossut, formerly part of the prestigious Saumur Cavalry School. A prime example of concrete engineering dating from the late 1920’s this massive and light-filled building will provide storage space for the natural raw ingredients : plants, fruit and spices, a new state of the art bottling line and a warehouse for the liqueurs, spirits and syrups that await shipping around the world.