Are you aware of Laguiole-en-Aubrac knives and cutlery? Despite being difficult to pronounce for we Americans, (pronounced - ‘la gee-ole’ - ‘en’ - ‘oh-brack’ ), you might recognize a Laguiole-en-Aubrac knife by the distinctive bee where the handle meets the blade, or the way the knife is perfectly formed with its perfect handle, or by their sharp, powerful blade. If not, let us introduce you to, what we regard as, one of the world’s best knives and cutlery collections: Laguiole-en-Aubrac, and how to avoid cheap imitations or knockoffs.
Tradition of Quality and Innovation
Authentic, Laguiole-en-Aubrac hand-crafted knives are the most recognized and famous French blade around the globe. Located in the heart of Aubrac France, their cutlery and knives are often imitated, but never equaled in handling, quality or performance. Their products are a beautiful mix of efficiency and elegance, famous for their craftsmanship, quality, and the natural materials’ beauty and variety used. Their collections today include tableware cutlery, kitchen knives, along with various serving & wine accessories.
Laguiole-en-Aubrac knives have been manufactured since 1828 and have become part of the French tradition. They still use the same traditional methods of production today that they used in the 19th century; some machines used to forge the blades are over 100 years old and still in use today. While other companies prefer to split the fabrication of the knives amongst multiple craftsmen because it is more profitable, each Laguiole-en-Aubrac knife—in the true Laguiole tradition-- is made by a single craftsman, from start to finish thus maintaining the artistry of each piece. As a result, each authentic Laguiole knife is unique with over 100 production steps for a one-piece knife.
The company started with its classic folding knife, which is composed of an astounding 147 pieces, then in 1880 began to make corkscrews to accommodate the rise of brasseries and restaurants opening in Paris. The incredible craftsmanship, remarkable sharpness of the blade and extraordinary quality of the materials used all contribute to the knives legendary status and are considered unique cultural property of France.
Blade & Handle Materials
Most of the wood and horn for their knife handles are sourced locally in France, and the juniper, pear, cherry, apple, and prune wood all come from the Aubrac region.
The stainless steel used for the blade production is Sandvik from Sweden. While Laguiole-en-Aubrac hand-crafted knives come in three types of blades, by far the most popular is the stainless steel blade - most referred to as surgical steel. Its carbon and chromium composition gives it a unique combination of properties: very high hardness, no corrosion / rust, very good wear resistance. These are the easiest blades to look after: wipe it down with a sponge and they are ready for new adventures. As you might expect, neither lead nor cadmium is used in the metal components of their products (another reason to avoid cheap imitations).
Sommelier Waiters Corkscrew
No discussion of Laguiole-en-Aubrac knives and cutlery would be complete without mentioning the famous Laguiole waiters / sommelier’s corkscrew. Knowing that not just any corkscrew will do for a wine enthusiast, especially when opening a prized Grand Cru, the artisanal quality of an authentic, handcrafted Laguiole-en-Aubrac waiter’s / professional sommeliers corkscrew works for a serious wine lover and collector who appreciates the finer things in life. Forged from Sandvik stainless steel, available with different handle woods or materials, it arrives packaged in an elegant French Oak box ready for gifting.
Beware of Counterfeits!
According to industry estimates, more than 80 % of the knives sold as Laguiole do not come from France, let alone from a traditional workshop in the village of Laguiole. Copies are mass produced in the Far East and bear a correspondingly lower price tag. A few basics can help you reliably identify an original. Not only must the blade bear the ‘LOG’ (Laguiole Origine Garantie) mark, the knife or set should also include a guarantee of origin, and a warranty for the blade.
While the traditional Laguiole Bee is always on the back of the knife / handle on genuine Laguiole en Aubrac knives–unfortunately, the Laguiole bee is often counterfeited as well. Warning: If the bee is too highly decorated, this may indicate that it is welded rather than forged in one piece.
While not inexpensive, the purchase of an authentic Laguiol-en-Aubrac knife is a luxury purchase that will last a lifetime and pay for itself over the years in performance and durability. Do not forget that a Laguiole-en-Aubrac knife is handmade with very high-quality raw material, which is why you cannot find Laguiole knives at a low price. There is softness in the wood, the unique hues, and the fine craftsmanship of the blade that speaks to its quality, craftsmanship, and fineness. They make a luxurious gift for yourself or family to be cherished for years and are packaged beautifully in wooden boxes. In the end, avoid cheap knockoffs so as to not be disappointed.