We work with small family businesses, which guarantees the diversity of products in the Andorran market, says Carles Magdaleno i Treserra, Cava Benito

In 1956, Benet Lluelles i Nadal Benito “Trist” opened a shop called Cava Benito. It imported, marketed and sold table and fortified wines, all transported in oak and chestnut barrels from Spain (Tarragona, Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa María, La Palma del Condado, etc.) and sold wholesale, as was usual in those years.

Later, Mònica Lluelles i Baró, daughter of “Benito,” together with her husband, Josep Riberaygua i Aldosa, continued the family business under the brand “Tendre”. Over time, the prestige of the establishment grew and so did the number of clients, mostly French. As a result, a small residence hotel was opened in the same place and with the same name, which, coinciding with the opening of the first ski slopes, welcomed pioneers of skiing, as well as lovers of climbing, mountains and nature.

The third generation of “Cava” emerged after the wedding of Josep and Monica’s daughter, Maribel Riberaygua i Lluelles, and Carles Magdaleno i Treserra. The couple embarked on structural changes and modernizing the trade with the original bar-restaurant which, together with the residence hotel, provided the best service in the country to the large number of tourists who came to the Principality in its golden age of commerce and ski resorts.

After the 2000 reform, Carles and Maribel’s son, Jordi Magdaleno i Riberaygua, great-grandson of the founder and a fourth-generation member of the business, took over the business and, together with his parents, currently runs Cava Benito.

Since September 2016, Martin, Jordi’s son, has been involved in the continuation of Cava Benito activities.

Cava Benito’s flagship drink has always been, and continues to be, whisky. As well as importing, marketing and selling the most prestigious whiskies from Scotland, the company has subsequently integrated whiskies produced in the rest of the world, including Ireland, the USA, Japan and France.

Are you curious to know how much the most expensive whisky costs? According to Carles, the most expensive drink he knows is Macallan whisky and some other Japanese brands, which can cost more than eighty thousand euros per bottle. A 50-year-old Karuizawa, for example, costs 120,000 euros.

“But this type of whisky is not usually sold in our shop, only to order. It’s a very exclusive product; hence, its price. Can you imagine what would happen if the bottle broke?”, asks Carlos, smiling.

Over time, Cava Benito’s clients became more interested in other drinks, such as cognac, wine and champagne. “We didn’t have them, and our customers had to buy them from another shop. In the end, it didn’t take us long to expand our range and start selling a little bit of everything, including table wines, with the only difference being that we bottled them over time,” says Carles.

Indeed, today, the shop offers the most exclusive wines from the main producing countries: France (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Côte-de-Provence, Alsace), Spain (Priorat, Terra Alta, Monsant, Pla del Bagès, Costers del Segre, Conca de Barbera, Aranda del Duero, Rioja, Toro, Rueda, Jumilla and a few more), Portugal (Douro, Alentejo) and Italy (Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Liguria, Campania, Piemonte), as well as Germany, New Zealand, Greece, Hungary and even Georgia. “The wines of Georgia are very different. The curiosity of these wines is how they are aged in buried ceramic vats and have sealed clay lids. No one else does that,” explains Carles.

Alcoholic drinks produced in Andorra deserve special attention. There are four wineries in the Principality (one in Ordino and three in Sant Julià). There are not many wines, so their availability depends on the productivity of the wineries themselves.

Andorra also produces ratafia, a sweet liqueur made from a maceration of various fruits, based on green walnuts (lemon zest, cherries, red cloves), mint and spices (cloves, walnuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, blackberry sprig) on an alcohol base, and Andorran beer, which tastes like the kind you drink in Scottish bars. All of these are available at Cava Benito.

Now, some information for lovers of fortified wines. The most renown are sherry and port from Spain (Jerez, Moscatel, Montilla-Moriles, Manzanilla and Malaga), ports from Portugal (Porto, Madeira and Moscatel) and France (Banyuls, Pinot de Charente) and, from Italy, vermouth (of all varieties) from Turin and bitter liqueur (in Milan). There are also Catalan cava and sparkling wines from different countries.

“Today we have over 200 different varieties of rum, about 55 varieties of vodka and, of course, whisky….we have almost 1,000 varieties. For example, Talisker Scotch Whisky alone, which has a smoked flavour, gives us different varieties (basic, aged, more smoked, less smoked, etc.). We also sell cognac, Armagnac, gin, calvados, brandy, tequila, mescal, sake and grappa, among others,” explains Carles.

The champagne theme deserves special attention. Cava Benito, being a family business, also prefers to work with small family businesses, which guarantees the diversity of products in the Andorran market. So, Cava Benito works with two small French houses, Pannier and Besserat de Bellefon. Interestingly, the latter brand has a very curious history: in the elite era of Parisian cabarets, Besserat de Bellefon champagne was always on the tables of the Lido, Moulin Rouge, Folies Bergere and other Parisian cabarets. Here, on the shop shelves, we can also find brands such as Louis Roederer or Bollinger.

“The period of maximum demand for champagne is at Christmas and New Year. In general, consumption is quite balanced and the alcohol market is not characterized by seasonality. There are always customers for everything,” summarizes Carles.

For now, Cava Benito has no plans to open new locations, which is how the brand intends to maintain its current exclusivity.

CAVA BENITO – Avinguda Carlemany, 82 – AD700 ESCALDES-ENGORDANY

Email – [email protected]

Telephone – +376 820469


Text: Irina Rybalchenko

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