The story of Olverum is as rich and rare as the oil itself, involving a family secret carried for decades, and several lifetimes of passion and specialist knowledge.
The dawn of the twentieth century in Europe saw a resurgent interest in natural health and wellbeing. This was especially evident in Germany, the centre of the world’s aromatherapy renaissance since the 16th century. By the 1920s, citizens from every corner of society would make regular visits to the many historic spa towns to take the waters. One keen enthusiast was Franz Otto Klein, a successful winemaker from the Mosel Valley.
Along with the fine wines he created by day, Franz had two other great passions: international travel, and essential oils, the fabled therapeutic powers of which fascinated him. Together with his wife Edith, an accomplished pharmacologist, he indulged both these interests by travelling the world, sourcing the finest essential oils for their personal collection. But throughout his travels, nowhere did Franz find such an exquisite blend as in his favourite spa in Baden Baden.
During a fateful visit in 1929, the spa announced they could no longer supply the renowned house blend of organics the Kleins found so invigorating. Franz and Edith were struck with an ambitious idea. Taking the spa’s infusion as an inspiration, they would employ all their skills acquired in both winery and laboratory, and the knowledge acquired during the pursuit of their passions, to produce the perfect therapeutic oil.
Inspired, the Kleins returned to their home, Mönchhof, a former monastery farmhouse on the banks of the River Mosel. The original occupants of the estate were Cistercian apothecaries, who had bequeathed the future owners an ancient physic garden. The Kleins’ loving care of these singular herbs, and the curation of their enviable library of rare and exotic tinctures, now paid dividends, as Franz and Edith experimented with blend after blend, seeking the definitive formulation. Two years later, in 1931, they finally perfected an oil of extraordinary quality, with the preternatural therapeutic and restorative properties they sought.
Due to scarcity of its ingredients and exacting distillation process, the couple initially made just seven litres of their signature oil, which they decanted into traditional clay bottles and gave to their friends as Christmas gifts. The response was universally rapturous. Soon, these friends were recommending the oil to their friends, and all were clamouring for more.
As the reputation of their extraordinary elixir grew, the Kleins could barely keep up with demand. By 1943, however, the war had made it impossible to source oils of sufficient quality and Franz, unwilling to compromise, halted production.
The remaining stoneware jars of oil were carefully stored in the wine cellars of Mönchhof, and under cloak of night, the secret formula was buried in the monastic garden for safe keeping.
It wasn’t until 1948, with demand for the Kleins’ unique oil still high, that the formula was retrieved and production was restarted. Now their son, Peter, devoted himself to bringing his parents’ creation to a wider audience.
For export, he renamed it Olverum, taking the name from the Latin oleum verum (meaning ‘true oil’) – a perfect encapsulation, he felt, of both its quality, and the devotion with which it was created.
For many years, Olverum survived by word of mouth – a cult product known only to a small number of passionate devotees. We are proud to finally bring Olverum to a new generation of discerning customers. Although the striking packaging – intended to reflect the quality and impeccable attention to detail which defines the product – is new, the oil remains true to the original formula. While the recipe has stood the test of time for over eight decades, be assured that Olverum is a new word in aromatherapeutic luxury.