A little while ago I received an email from Daniel in the USA. He was asking for help finding out about an unopened white ceramic decanter he had – and its untouched contents – dating from 1932. This pricked my interest as Cazenove is an old Bordeaux name and I set out to track down the story behind the decanter and its contents.
Daniel told me that the decanter had a few labels on it:
“the first one is a round label on the neck and it has a gray hound sitting on its rear and says F.Cazanove with Bordeaux under that . . .
the next label down says distributors Austin Nichols & co inc Brooklyn, New York, manufactured 1932 and bottled august 1934 . . .
then there is a label that says distilled by les successeurs de F.Cazanove produce of France 25/32 quarts liqueur Martha Washington 70 proof with f.cazanove sighed in red and Bordeaux France . . . “
Firstly I discovered that the contents of the decanter could be spirits, liqueur or eau de vie. Martha Washington (June 2, 1731 – May 22, 1802) was the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States and was renowned for her rum punch liquor so the jug could contain this – perhaps bottled in memory of her name?
I wondered if F. Cazenove could be from the Bordeaux family of Chateau de Cazenove who have historic links to the USA (see this link for more information: http://www.chateaudecazenove.com). However this line of thought came to a dead end as they did not produce liqueur, only Bordeaux wine.
The distributor Austin Nichols & Co seem to have been bought out by Pernod Ricard in 1980 – so basing my research on spirits I discovered that Cazanove were distillers of liquers and eau de vie in Bordeaux and their decanters and jugs are collectable. Cazanove owes its origin to a monk named Father Kermann who went to Brazil at the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI (1754 – 1793). He developed various herbal elixirs to combat local fevers and used alcohol to keep these infusions. Back in France after the revolution, he moved to Bordeaux and began to produce wine tonics and elixirs he distributed free to his high numbers of patients.
Father Kermann died at the age of 109 years leaving his business to his friend in Bordeaux, Mr. Sieuzac, whom he had met in Brazil. The latter became associated with Mr. Francois Cazanove, of Catalan origin who further developed the elixirs by increasing the alcohol content to improve flavor and preservation.
The elixirs became famous and Cazanove extended his range of liqueurs using traditional old family recipes. He distributed rums from Jamaica and produced syrups in 1900.
Cazanove left his distillery to Maurice Clavieres. Despite a break of two years due to the war of 1914 -1918, Cazanove prospered and his fame spread to foreign markets where he enjoyed success, mainly in the USA, South America and Africa. Some of Cazanove’s liqueurs were sold in ceramic decanters, some shaped as animals, and these have become collectible items – see these links here:
Cazenove’s distillery was sold in 1983.
So, it seems the mystery of Daniel’s Cazenove decanter has been solved – however if anyone has any more information about Cazenove please get in touch!