The extraordinary story of Lea & Perrins began over 160 years ago, when Lord Marcus Sandys, the governor of Bengal, was home visiting England. He brought with him a special recipe for a sauce which he entrusted to an enterprising pair of chemists with a successful business in Worcestershire. This pair of gentlemen, John Wheeley Lea and William Perrins, procured the necessary ingredients and made the sauce to Lord Sandys' precise specifications, resulting in a mixture that, to everyone's surprise, tasted quite harsh and unpleasant. It was described as 'unpalatable, red hot firewater'! They ended up storing the large batch of sauce down in the cellar, and it was soon forgotten.
The following year, while cleaning out the cellar, they found the jars of sauce, opened one, and gave it one last taste. To their delight they found the ageing process had turned it into a delicious, savoury sauce. Its reputation quickly grew and, in 1837, Lea & Perrins decided to officially manufacture and sell the product. By 1843, 14,500 bottles of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce were produced and sold every year.
To this day, the recipe remains a closely guarded secret and only a privileged few know the exact ingredients. To protect the sauce from other imitators, the famous
Lea & Perrins signature was put on the label of the bottle, as it appears today. Lea & Perrins remains true to the spirit of the original recipe, combining flavours of ingredients from around the world, including molasses from the Caribbean, tamarinds from Calcutta, British red onions, French garlic, shallots from Holland, cloves from Madagascar, and chillies from China. But the key to its unique flavour is the ageing process. These special ingredients are still matured for years in casks kept in the cellar of the factory in Worcester, England. In fact, it takes 3 years and 3 months to make a bottle of Lea & Perrins.
Lea & Perrins is now available in over 75 countries worldwide. In the UK, it is used to make the ultimate cheese on toast, in Spain it's used in salads. In Hong Kong,
Lea & Perrins is a favoured dipping sauce, stir-fry sauce and beef marinade. It's even used as a great marinade for chicken's feet in China! Lea & Perrins might be served with refried beans in El Salvador and in Canada and the USA, it's known as the "burger booster" used in beef burger recipes. One thing is for sure - Lea & Perrins is a versatile sauce that complements your favourite meat and vegetable dishes, because it brings out the natural flavours of the food.