1737-1860 : Monastery of “la Grande-Chartreuse”
Located in the Chartreuse mountain, the Monastery of
“La Grande Chartreuse” is the Mother House — the Headquarters — of the Chartreuse Order.
This is where, after years of study, the Elixir Végétal – from the manuscript given by Marshall d’Estrées – is finally produced in 1737.
The Elixir is followed by the production of Green Chartreuse in 1764.
1860-1903 : Fourvoirie
The success of Elixir and Green Chartreuse made it necessary to build a new and larger distillery near to the small village of “Saint Laurent du Pont”, at a place called “Fourvoirie”.
Soon, the production at Fourvoirie was enlarged with the addition of new liqueurs: Yellow Chartreuse in 1838 and White Chartreuse (From 1840 to 1880 and from 1886 to 1900).
1903-1989 : Tarragona (read below)
1930-1935 : Fourvoirie
In 1929, the monks were finally able to regain the brand name “Chartreuse” and the distillery in Fourvoirie where they resumed distillation in 1930.
Their good fortune did not last long ! During the night of November 14, 1935, a landslide destroyed the whole building and part
of the stock was lost in the river. The French army was called for help. The oak barrels and large copper stills, which remained in good condition,
were taken to a nearby town, Voiron, where the Chartreuse monks owned a small warehouse and an ageing cellar.
1903-1989 : Tarragona (Spain)
In 1903, the Chartreuse monks were expelled from France.
The father distillers in charge of the liqueurs went to Spain and opened a new distillery in Tarragona.
It took less than one year for Chartreuse to be back on the world market. But not in all countries, as the French government had “nationalised” the brand name and the distillery and sold them to a group of private investors. In France.
If one wanted the “real” Chartreuse and not the imitation, one asked for a “Tarragone”. Everyone knew what it was even though “Tarragone” was no more than a nickname.
This distillery operated until 1989.
During the 86 years of its existence, the monk distillers worked alternatively there, in Marseille (France), in Fourvoirie (until its destruction) and finally in Voiron.
1921-1929 : Marseille
In 1921, the distillers came back to Marseille, in the south of France, where they mixed together alcoholates from Tarragona.
They were still not allowed to call their liqueur “Chartreuse” so they decided to call it “Tarragone”.
Interestingly, the only liqueur bearing a Spanish name at that time was made in France !
Since 1935 : Voiron
Today, all the Chartreuse liqueurs are made only in Voiron.
However, the 130 herbs, plants and flowers from which Chartreuse is made are stored in the Monastery of “La Grande Chartreuse”, 25 kilometers away.
There, they are crushed, blended, whatever the secret recipe requires – and are eventually taken to the Voiron distillery where only the two monks are allowed to macerate and distill them, and finally oversee their ageing.
Every year, these cellars welcome thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Very few of them know they are going to hear about a liqueur that has been on the market for almost 300 years !