History of Chartreuse:
Chartreuse is an herbal liqueur produced by Carthusian monks in the French Alps. With almost 400 years of history, Chartreuse is one of the oldest and most mysterious spirits still available. Only three monks from the order know the secret recipe, each hold one third of that recipe and all have taken a vow of silence, so the secret recipe is kept safely. The liqueur was originally created as an "Elixir of Long Life" in 1605 by Peres Chartreux. The formula was perfected over the years and by 1737 the liqueur was released to the world in a form that is close to what we drink today.
Chartreuse is made by macerating the select herbs with a neutral alcohol spirit which is then distilled and aged for five years in oak vats (the only liqueur to do so). There are two varieties of Chartreuse produced: green and yellow. Both retail at $25 for a 375 mL bottle and $47 for a 750 mL bottle.
Chartreuse Green is used more often than the yellow version. It is made from 130 herbs, plants and flowers found in the French Alps. It is 110 proof and has an intense floral and herbal flavor with hints of cloves, citrus, thyme, rosemary and cinnamon.
Chartreuse Yellow is also made from 130 herbs, plants and flowers. The difference between the green and yellow varieties is determined by the herbs used, although the process for distilling both is the same. Chartreuse Yellow is only 86 proof and has a distinct citrus, violet and honey taste accented by anise, licorice and saffron.
Both Yellow and Green Chartreuse can be found in a bottling known as V.E.P. (Vieillissement Exceptionnellement Prolonge), essentially the same liqueur that is aged for a longer period of time. These luxury liqueurs have an exceptional flavor similar to their younger counterparts, but are markedly more mellow. Each bottle of V.E.P. is carefully closed by hand with a wax sealed cork, labeled with a wax Chartreuse seal and placed in a wooden box marked with a branding iron. Bottles of Chartreuse V.E.P. retail for $123 per liter.
Chartreuse pairs wonderfully with desserts and chocolate (especially Chartreuse Green). It is often enjoyed straight or on the rocks and can be found in many cocktails including those below.