The Chartreuse Order was more than 500 years old when, in 1605, at a Chartreuse monastery in Vauvert, near Paris, the monks received a gift from Francois Hannibal d’ Estrées, Marshal of King’s Henri IV artillery : an already ancient manuscript for an “ “Elixir of Long Life”.
It was probably the work of a 16th century alchemist with a great knowledge of herbs and with the skill to blend, infuse, macerate the 130 of them to form a perfect balanced tonic.
The manuscript was sent to the Mother House of the Order – La Grande Chartreuse Monastery – in the mountains not far from Grenoble. Here an exhaustive study of the manuscript was undertaken.
The Monastery’s Apothecary, Frère Jerome Maubec, finally unravelled the mystery and, in 1737, drew up the practical formula for the preparation of the Elixir. Today, this “Elixir of Long Life” is still made following that ancient recipe, and is called Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse - 69% alcohol, 138 proof.
In 1764, the Chartreuse monks adapted the elixir recipe to make a milder beverage which we know today as “Green Chartreuse» – 55% alcohol, 110 proof. Green Chartreuse is the only liqueur in the world with a completely natural green colour. It is powerful and unique.
Even today, the selection, crushing and mixing of the 130 secret herbs, plants and other botanicals used in producing the liqueurs is done in the monastery by two Chartreuse monks who work in the greatest secrecy and are the only ones who know the details of manufacturing.
Once mixed the ingredients are taken to the distillery in Voiron were they are first left to macerate in carefully selected alcohol, then distilled.
Finally, these liqueurs are aged for several years in huge oak casks and placed into the world’s longest liqueur cellar for maturation.
Nowadays, Chartreuse liqueurs are used as an after-dinner drink, and more and more as an essential element in numerous cocktails by famous mixologists all around the world.