Why is the Chartreuse such a mysterious liqueur?
In history, plants and their properties are an object of knowledge. The realization of an elixir is part of a technical and spiritual quest to make a drink with remarkable properties and not the least since it is a matter of making a potion of youth or an elixir of long life...
The Chartreuse embodies this magical and spiritual dimension, a 1940s advertising document highlights this dimension: "It was in 1605 that the Marshal of Estrée handed over the formula of secrecy to the Chartreux of Paris. Who did he get it from?..... From an unknown inventor, a patient researcher like so many others in search of a cure-all or a philosopher's stone?.... Mystery!....".
There are no less than 130 different plants and spices from many countries in the doses that are measured by the handle, as in the past, intended for maceration with alcohol, before distillation. The precise composition of the recipe, the ingredients used in its composition and the manufacturing processes are the real secret of the Carthusians and it is hardly possible to obtain more details on this subject from the latter.
Finally, a specific feature of the Chartreuse is that it has been commercially exploited since the beginning of the 18th century and with worldwide success, without its recipe being the subject of a deposit or a patent. Thus with its formula never deposited or protected other than by the seal of well-kept secrecy, these liqueurs remain inimitable.
The production took place in Fourvoirie until the expulsion of the Carthusian order from France in 1903 and the confiscation of their brand in a troubled context. The Carthusians then found refuge in Spain, in Tarragona, where production was transferred and resumed in 1904. The distillery located in the Catalan city, with its characteristic facade, remained in operation until 1989 and we can still found Chartreuse of Tarragona. Since 1936, the production of liqueurs has been transferred to Voiron below the monastery; there were also the ageing cellars of the Chartreuse, the longest in the world for spirits. Voiron is currently the only production site and houses the premises of Chartreuse Diffusion as well as a tourist complex with a number of attractions to visit.