Our world has fewer mysteries today than ever before, no longer do mermaids and monsters linger on the edge of the map. And yet the world famous Chartreuse has managed to retain its secret recipe for hundreds of years, with its iconic green and yellow brands remaining closely guarded clandestine mixes of different flowers, plants, herbs and spices.
Impossibly old, wonderfully refined and an absolute favourite among discerning drinkers, Chartreuse comes from a monastery in the mountains near Grenoble. Tales and myths have sprouted up about the liqueurs, saying that in 1605 the order of monks, then already 500 years old, were given the original secret mix in an ancient manuscript detailing an elixir for long life. It took a further 130 years before the monastery’s apothecary, Frère Jerome Maubec, turned the elixir into an exact recipe.
This original recipe was a bold 69% ABV, and the monks were quick to adapt the recipe to a milder 55%, known as Green Chartreuse, which is the only liqueur across the world with a naturally occurring vivid green hue. Mixed together, the furtive ingredients are taken to the distillery in Voiron where they macerate in a neutral sugar beat spirit and are then distilled. Yellow Chartreuse on the other hand, created in 1838 and using more spices, has a grape-spirit base and is a milder 40%. Finally both end products are aged in large oak casks for a minimum of three years before being bottled and shipped around the world, ending up in cocktails in bars from New York to Tokyo.