Chartreuse in it’s two normal forms, Yellow & Green, usually doesn’t make the list of favourite drinks for much of the drinking public. Content with their Cosmopolitans, their Vodka tonics and their shaker shots of Kamikaze madness.
Luckily for the privileged few, those who have formed a deep affection with this wonderfully herbal tonic, the Carthustian monks don’t care too much for the general public. Content instead, wandering the halls of monastic tradition in a delightful haze, turning out God’s nectar. For those of you who’ve suckled at the Master’s cup, drunk deeply of his Last Word or skipped joyfully through the Dasies filled with the warmth of her yellow Sun, the third arm of the glorious Trinity is slowly become more available here in Australia.
History states that the monks recieved a gift from the Marshall of Artillery in King Henri VI’s army. A man by the really rather grand name, Francois Hannibal d’ Estrees, gave the monks a manuscript entitled “An Elixir of Long Life.”
Stories from that time suggest the recipe was very complex, and in any case, it took them 122 years to perfect the method and start selling Elixir Vegetal, a herbal and floral tonic suspended in alcohol at 71%. The taste, then as now, developed a fast following and 27 years after the Elixir hit the streets, The mighty Green came into existence. Then came Napoleon, and the expulsion of the religious orders, the collection of the secret recipes and many other tidbits of history. I’ll be happy to share them over a Chartreuse based drink…
The rarest of rare is a production of the V.E.P. (Viellissement Exceptionnellement Prolongé or Exceptionally Extended Aging), it commenced in 1963. It is the distillate of Green Chartreuse, held back from dilution & bottling to be further aged.
The small bottle above harks back to elixir vegetal, but few believe all items to be the same though its packaging is extraordinary and shared by the VEP. It is quite simply intense, almost like a bitters.