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The journey to the Famous French Life Elixir Chartreuse Distillery Fabric

Well, everything just begun with my trip to magical Chartreuse Distillery Fabric and Cave in France. In February 2017, in the cold months of France, we have visited the Green Chartreuse Distillery Cave, the wine factory which is located in the city of Voiron, one of the most amazing cities of France, surrounding by snowy Alpes Mountains, Basically, I really enjoyed my day, and even I cannot express my happiness with one word.

Here are some of the pictures taken by me. Besides, we got a chance to visit the basement of full of huge-scale wine barrels. Even I had a small headache cause of scent of strong Chartreuse wines in the basement. We were not allowed to take a picture in caves. Although I have a huge background concerning the history of wines, I have never been trying the wine to date, unlike previous times, but today it caught my attention and I was really into what it really tasted and then I had a sip of green chartreuse. Nowadays, Le Chartreuse liquid is a favorite beverage of French Families. Many of us do not have an idea how is Le Chartreuse made? – So that let’s trace back to the brief history of green chartreuse. Since 1870, green chartreuse has been made of different kinds of plants and flowers by monks. It is a really strong and unique beverage. The chartreuse is a liqueur made in the cellars of Voiron in Isère, on the edge of the Chartreuse Massif, under the supervision of the monks of Grande-Chartreuse. Liquor with a very high degree of alcohol (55 ° for the green), its sale is the main financial resource of the Carthusians. According to tradition, the monastery was founded in 1605, when the monks of the Charterhouse of Vauvert in Les Arcs 1800, reputed to be good herbalists receive Estrées Duke a mysterious manuscript with the formula of Elixir of Long Life. Too complex, the recipe is not exploited immediately but is the subject of work conducted by the apothecary of the Grande Chartreuse, Brother Jerome Maubec. In 1737, the monastery of the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble, produces the elixir in his pharmacy and begins to trade. It is marketed by a brother on a mule and is therefore limited to the nearby towns of Grenoble and Chambéry, where it becomes popular. This elixir is still marketed today, under the name of Elixir Végétal Grande Chartreuse. From the elixir, the Carthusian quickly develop a digestive original taste. But it was not until 1764 that the green chartreuse, made from the original recipe, was marketed under the name liqueur de santé. During the French Revolution, the monks were dispersed in 1793. The distillation of the Carthusian monastery then stops, but the Carthusians manage to keep the secret recipe: the manuscript is taken away by one of the fathers and a copy is kept by the monk authorized to keep the monastery; when he was imprisoned in Bordeaux, he gave his copy to a colleague who eventually gave it to a pharmacist Liotard in Grenoble, To make use of the recipe, the latter shall submit in 1810 at the Ministry of Interior of Napoleon I, who sends it back to him with the mention “refused” because it is considered too complex. After Liotard’s death, the documents returned to the monastery of Grande-Chartreuse, which the monks reinstated in 1816, and the distillation resumed. The yellow chartreuse, developed as a milder version of the liqueur, was first marketed in 1838.

Today, the liqueurs are produced in Voiron using a mixture of plants and herbs prepared by two liquorist monks from the monastery of Grande-Chartreuse. The exact recipe of the chartreuse remains secret and is known only to the three monks who prepare the vegetable mixture. As the recipe is not patented, its secrecy does not expire and thus preserves the monopoly of the Carthusian order. Since 1970, the company Chartreuse Diffusion have been dealing with packaging, advertising and sales. The manufacturing method, therefore, remains little known. No artificial additives enter the composition of the chartreuse. The men of Saint Bruno first selected nearly 2000 plants in the Chartreuse desert located near Grenoble before selecting 130. The 130 plants that compose it are first macerated in an alcohol grape and then distilled. The alcohols are added distilled honey and sugar syrup. Green and yellow liquors are then aged extensively in barrels made by oaks from Russia or Hungary. Their respective color is mainly due to chlorophyll and saffron, which are their natural dyes. The main financial resource of the Carthusians, the distillery of Voiron bottled annually one million five hundred thousand bottles, all formats and all products, including about eighty thousand elixirs. The chartreuse remains the traditional liquor of Tarragona and composes the drink of the patronal festivities of Santa Tecla, green chartreuse, yellow chartreuse, and granita. Since the end of its production, the liquid has become even more popular in Tarragona and is even the subject of collections. The Voiron distillery is open to the public, as is the adjoining liquor cabinet, the largest in the world (164 m). Other alcoholic beverages are made here: genépi, walnut water, fruit liqueurs and gentian liqueur. Most of the distillation of the liqueurs is today done in the stainless-steel stills. They have been designed particularly for Chartreuse, in order to allow a very accurate control of the distillation process. And, as important, to let the Monks to monitor the distillation from the Monastery, 15 miles away from the distillery. One should never forget their vocation implies silence and solitude. Heated by steam, the alcohol and the essence of the plants evaporate to the top of the swan neck, and then are cooled down in the condenser becoming an alcoholate. A last maceration of plants gives its color to the liqueur. A final control is made by the Monks before the Chartreuse liqueur can be put to age in the oak-casks of the maturing cellar. So, if you have in mind to visit France, first and foremost, you need to go to Grand Chartreuse Distillery Fabric and Cave located in Voiron city of France, where you will live the wonderful and unforgettable experiences in wine history and processing technology.

Dr. Hijran Ismayilova, Azerbaijan Technology University, UTECA