What Is the History of Chartreuse?
Chartreuse’s history dates back to 1605, when François Hannibal d’Estrées discovered a secret recipe that allegedly helped its consumers ‘live a long life.’ He brought the recipe to Monks near Paris, who ultimately sent it down to La Grande Chartreuse abbey. The recipe was eventually tested in 1737, and about 60 years later, was tweaked to create Green Chartreuse. This new and improved Chartreuse boasted a more mild flavor profile and is the recipe still used today. 75 years later, Frère Bruno Jacquet crafted another tweaked version of the recipe, which became the Yellow Chartreuse that we know and love today.
How Is Chartreuse Made?
Chartreuse is produced from a secret recipe passed down by Carthusian Monks. Green Chartreuse is produced from a sugar beet-based spirit, whereas Yellow Chartreuse is produced using a grape-based spirit. Both of these spirits are distilled in copper pots, macerated with their unique recipe of botanicals, and aged in charred French oak. Only two guardians, Dom Benoit and Frère Jean-Jacques, are permitted to enter the ‘herb room’ where the botanicals dry. These botanicals are sourced from all over the world and range from citrus rind to thyme to saffron and beyond.
How Many Other Types of Chartreuse Are There?
In addition to Green Chartreuse and Yellow Chartreuse, there are five other versions of Chartreuse available on the market: Chartreuse VEP, Élixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse, Liqueur du 9° Centenaire, Génépi, and Cuvée des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France.
Chartreuse VEP (Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé) is produced using the same methods as the traditional cuvée, though it is aged for a longer period of time in oak casks. Chartreuse VEP is produced in both green and yellow formats. The Élixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse has the same base as Green Chartreuse, though is distilled to a higher ABV (around 70%). Liqueur du 9° Centenaire was created to celebrate the original abbey’s 900th anniversary. It is slightly sweeter than the original Green Chartreuse.
Génépi gets its name for the local term used to describe homemade liqueurs in Alpine areas of France. This particular cuvée of Chartreuse is almost only found in eastern France and is bottled at around 40% ABV. The Cuvée des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France was produced in 2007 in partnership with the MOF Sommeliers. It is a variation of Yellow Chartreuse and clocks in around 40% ABV.
What Does Chartreuse Taste Like?
Chartreuse, like many liqueurs, has a very strong and distinct taste. It is slightly sweet, though more herbaceous and vegetal in taste. Yellow Chartreuse is sweeter than Green Chartreuse. Yellow Chartreuse is noted with flavors of honey, saffron, and anise spice, whereas Green Chartreuse shows more prominent flavors of lime, citrus spice, and fresh cut herbs.
According to CocktailsAndBars.com, finding out the year a given bottle of Chartreuse was produced is quite easy. Simply add 1084 to the first three numbers of the batch number on the bottle neck’s label.