Pernod Ricard Group
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Lillet has greatly benefited from Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, in which James Bond specifies that his Martini should be made with a half measure of Kina Lillet. Later in the book he names his bespoke Martini ‘Vesper’ after the beautiful double agent Vesper Lynd.
The Lillet Frères company was formed in 1865 by two brothers, Paul and Raymond Lillé who were merchants of fine wine and spirits in Bordeaux. The brothers first produced their Kina Lillet in 1887 after an idea by father Kermann, a monk and doctor who had returned to Bordeaux after a stay in Brazil.
Lillet Frères was purchased in 1985 by Bruno Borie of the famed Borie family (the owners of several Bordeaux châteaux) who invested in the company’s production facilities and in 1986 re-launched the brand with the name and recipe changed. The original name ‘Kina Lillet’, derived from the Peruvian Indian name for the cinchona tree, kin-kina. ‘Kina’ was dropped from the name and the amount of quinine reduced to create a lighter, fruitier, less syrupy drink to appeal to modern tastes.