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Distillerie Lemercier Frères


  • Bartering in Bourgogne:A genius idea!

    During the 1800s, it was difficult to sell Kirsch in Fougerolles and the neighboring regions, because all the farming families were distillers. So Desle Nicolas Lemercier had the idea of “bartering”. He went down to Bourgogne with carts full of decanters and barrels of Kirsch, which he exchanged for wine that he took back to Fougerolles to sell.

  • Little by little, he expanded his activities and became a trader in wines as well as being a distiller.

    This was the start of a wine business that the Lemercier Frères establishment kept up until around 1950. Desle Nicolas began also manufacturing absinthe, which was a hugely successful activity until it was banned in 1915.

  • They realized that the railway would be the best way to develop their activities; in fact, at this time, the train was the only mode of transport used for delivering over long distances. They built the current premises on “Rue de la gare” (station road) in 1881, digging into the alluvial hillside; the earth that was removed was used to refill the site of the new station.

  • This alcohol rectification activity was stopped by Georges Labbe in 1907, the son-in-law of Isidore Lemercier, who was the director at the time. The sale of Kirsch, eaux-de-vie, absinthe and wine developed, and Constant and Isidore decided to create their own barrel-making factory.

    Their barrel production soon became too big for their own needs, so they sold the barrels to their colleagues in the region and the surrounding areas.

  1. The oldest distillery in Fougerolles


    Before 1800, the Lemerciers were a major farming family based in Grand-Fahys, a small village in the Fougerolles region. Their farmland included several orchards, and so they produced Kirsch and prune Eau-de-Vie. But, little by little, their eaux-de-vie production largely exceeded their personal family requirements, and they became professional distillers. This was why a distiller’s licence was found in the company archives, granted to Desle Nicolas Lemercier, the owner and resident distiller at Grand Fahys, Fougerolles, the canton of St Loup, pursuant to article 76 of the law 5 Ventôse, year 12 of the French Republican calendar.

  2. New terrain


    In 1881, the Grand-Fahys premises became too overcrowded. Desle Nicolas’ descendants, Constant and Isidore Lemercier, decided to leave Grand-Fahys to buy new premises in the center of Fougerolles, opposite the future railway station on the new railway line from Aillevillers to Faymont (88) from 1881 to 1883.

  3. Maison Nicolas


    In 1890, they bought a large property located on the Grande Rue de Fougerolles and named it "Maison Nicolas", after a former mayor of Fougerolles who lived there for many years. This property had a large park, and it was here that they built an alcohol rectification unit.

    They bought crude alcohol from beetroot, which they rectified to produce alcohol of around 90% vol., a raw material used as a base for the production of absinthe.

  4. The suppression of absinthe


    The war of 1914 - 1918 led to the suppression of absinthe in 1915, which was a severe blow for the Lemercier Frères establishments.

    However, this activity was unprofitable due to the cost of transport: Fougerolles was not located in a beetroot producing region, so everything had to be brought in: crude alcohol from beetroot and charcoal.

  5. Creation of a basketwork factory


    In around 1920, to occupy the buildings of the old alcohol rectification unit, Georges Labbe created a basketwork factory, which employed several hundred people on-site to make bread baskets and several dozen workers in a workshop for packaging the glass decanters.

    The basketwork factory ceased its activity during the years 1970 - 1974; the sale of decanters and diminished considerably, partially because eaux-de-vie were increasingly being sold in bottles, and partially because plastic packaging was presenting competition for the glass decanters.

  6. Replacement activity


    A replacement activity was found in 1925 by Georges Labbe; he created a vinegar factory which became quite significant. This activity was ceased in 2009.

  7. Alain Aureggio


    The succession of the company was assured, as the son of Jacques Aureggio, Alain, decided after his business degree to take on the family business in 1991.