The birth of Byrrh
The aromatic plants which form part of the ingredients used in Byrrh
Agrandir l'imageThe aromatic plants which form part of the ingredients used in Byrrh

Using his in-depth knowledge of wine and his expert taste-buds, Simon Violet created his unique recipe from a blend of fine Roussillon wines, flavoured with plant extracts and enhanced with cinchona bark (quinine). The resulting aperitif drink was sold under the name of “Hygienic Tonic Wine with Cinchona”. In the latter half of the 19th century, medicinal wines with cinchona were reputed to have fortifying qualities and Simon himself oversaw deliveries of the precious brew to pharmacies, grocers and cafés around the area.

In light of their success, the Order of Pharmacists of Montpellier sued the Violet brothers for unfair competition, and they subsequently were banned from using the word cinchona, which was reserved for pharmaceutical use only.

On February 10th 1873, the trademark Byrrh was registered with the Clerk of the Commercial Court in Perpignan.

The oddness of the name Byrrh has always aroused interest and curiosity.

There are several versions of how this strangely-spelt word came to exist. According to one such story, the name BYRRH is a completely random invention : the letters B Y R R H were simply code letters attached to a few rolls of cloth stored in the haberdashery owned by the Violet brothers.

In 1876, Simon and Pallade Violet changed the statutes of their company and from then on their business focussed solely on the wine trade. The company expanded rapidly and two trading outlets were opened in Spain. In Thuir the wine cellars were extended, taking capacity to 50,000 hectolitres in just a few years. It wasn’t long before demand outstripped output and Simon decided to build a bigger cellar. Unable to expand down the side of the boulevard, he decided to have the buildings that exist today designed and built.

Subsequently, the business continued to thrive and branches were set up all around the world. The company took part in many exhibitions in France and abroad and the first advertisements began to make their appearance.

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