Jan Becher

Jan Becher

About Company

Jan Becher - Karlovarská Becherovka, a.s. engages in the production and distribution of spirits and wines. The company was founded in 1807 and is based in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. As per the transaction announced on November 29, 2001, Jan Becher - Karlovarská Becherovka, a.s. is a subsidiary of Pernod-Ricard SA. Becherovka’s history is closely linked with the town where it was created. Karlovy Vary is renowned for its twelve thermal springs, and Becherovka is known as “the thirteenth spring”. Its creator, Josef Vitus Becher, spent two years perfecting the formulation before marketing it.Made from a blend of macerated plants and spices, this liqueur contains neither colouring nor preservatives and enjoys its greatest success in its country of origin, where it is the Czech Republic’s number two brand of bitters. Today, only two people know the secret of the entire production process and may enter the Drogikamr room—where, once a week, they mix the herbs and spices used in the drink. Some of the herbs are imported from abroad, and some grow around Karlovy Vary.


The inventor of Becherbitter was Josef Vitus Becher (1769–1840), pharmacist from Karlovy Vary. Apart from trading in spices and colonial goods in his shop, “Haus zu den drei Ler­chen” (“At the Three Skylarks”), he also produced alcoholic beverages.  In 1794, he rented a stillhouse and began to experiment with hard alcohol. Started selling bitters made to his own recipe as a medicinal tonic.  In 1838, his son Johan "Jan" Nepomuk Becher took over the business and turned Becherovka into a leading national liqueur.  Johann started large-scale production, and accordingly his name has been associated with Becherovka to the present day. The drink was called Karlsbader Becherbitter. The name Becherovka was developed after World War I, when Bohemia became part of Czechoslovakia, and the sole official language Czech. Over the next hundred years (until 1945), the management of the company was passed down through the Becher family. After World War II, the company was nationalized under the Benes-Decrees that stripped local Germans and Magyars of property and citizenship. The original owners of the company were not willing to accept this fate without struggle.  In 1949 young Hedda Baier-Becher  recreated the company as the Johann Becher OHG Likörfabrik in 1949, with the German assets of her family's company. Though she had been forced in 1945 to divulge the secret recipe to the Czech police, she knew the recipe by heart as well, and together with a few workers from the old company created a superior product, sold as "Karlsbader Becher" with distinctive blue-yellow labels. In the 1970s Emil Underberg, of the German manufacturer of bitters Underberg, bought the majority of the company. For many years, the existence of two companies was not a large issue. The Czech firm sold in the Communist bloc and the German company in Germany.  In the early 1980s, though, competition increased and in October 1985 Underberg and the Czech trade ministry made a contract. The German company would cease to make the liquor, in exchange for becoming the sole distributor in Germany of the Czech-made product, but using its own bottles and not those used by the Czech company. When the Czech company ended the agreement in 1994, the Johann Becher OHG began manufacturing Karlsbader Becher again. The Czech firm sued for trademark infringement, but the Landgericht Düsseldorf clarified that Hedda Baier-Becher was, in Germany, the sole legal owner of her father's business, including the trademark Karlsbader Becher.The conflict was resolved when Pernod Ricard bought the Johann Becher OHG in April 1999, and sold it to the firm Becherovka, before acquiring Becherovka altogether in 2001. 


Brand's region: Karlovarský
Premium products of the brand: Becherovka

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