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Chartreuse Liqueurs

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The Monastery of "La Grande Chartreuse" is the Mother House, the Headquarters, of the Carthusian Order. This is where, after years of study, Elixir Végétal - from the manuscript " Elixir of long life" is finally, produced in 1737. The Elixir is followed by the production of Green Chartreuse in 1764. Le Grand Chartreuse proves that word of mouth is a very successful way of marketing.

The Carthusians monks that manufacture the Chartreuse liqueur do not speak themselves. They live an ascetic life dedicated to prayer and contemplation in their Charterhouses. Le Grand Chartreuse is located in the French Alps in Voiron, near Grenoble. The monastery of La Grande Chartreuse has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt 11 times since 1084, the last time in 1676. Then during the French Revolution the monks were forced to leave the country. The Carthusian distillery was nationalized in 1903 and not returned to the monks until 1930.

Only two Chartreuse monks know the identity of the 130 plants, how to blend them and how to distill them into this world famous liqueur. They are also the only ones who know which plants they have to macerate to produce the natural green and yellow colors. And they alone supervise the slow ageing in oak casks. The Green Chartreuse is the only liqueur in the world with a completely natural green color; while the Yellow Chartreuse is milder and sweeter than the famous Green Chartreuse.

The sale of the Chartreuse liqueur helps to support Le Grand Chartreuse and the order’s other monasteries around the world. The liqueur is made from 130 herbs and plants. Green Chartreuse, which was first sold in 1764. Yellow Chartreuse was known as "The Queen of Liqueurs" and "The World's Greatest Liqueur" in the late 19th century.

The monks got hold of the recipe, originally a health potion, in 1605 but it was so complex they didn't master it for another century. The two monks at La Grande Chartreuse who are each privy to part of the liqueur's formula no longer need to spend their days at Voiron distilling. Use of today’s computer technology allows the pair to oversee the process remotely via television monitors in their cells. This allows the monks more time to follow their vocation, which is prayer and contemplation.


A long and colorful history...
-  The gift of the manuscript in 1605
-  The Vegetal Elixir is finally made in 1737
-  Green Chartreuse is formulated in 1764
-  Yellow Chartreuse is first made in 1838
-  A "White" Chartreuse liqueur is produced and sold between
   1860 and 1900
-  During the years after 1904, when the Chartreuse trademark belonged to Compagnie Fermiere de la Grande Chartreuse, the liqueur made by the monks was called "la Tarragone".
-  The Green and the Yellow made in Marseille between 1921 and 1929 were also called "la Tarragone."
-  V.E.P. is introduced in 1963
-  A special bottling commemorating the 1968 Winter Olympic Games
-  The 900th anniversary of the arrival of St. Bruno (1984) is celebrated by the bottling of a special blend marked "Liqueur du 9eme Centenaire"
-  In the year 2000, "L'Episcopale du 3eme Millenaire" announced the arrival of Christianity's third millenium

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