The elixir of long life, Chartreuse is made of a secret recipe that has been handed down to each generation of Carthusian monks since 1605. The formula is said to call for 130 herbs, flowers, and secret ingredients combined in a wine brandy base. However, the exact recipe for Chartreuse remains a secret and is known only to the three monks who prepare the herbal mixture. In fact, no single person holds the entire recipe - each monk has knowledge of only 1/3 of the ingredients used to make the liqueur.
The V.E.P. is a selected portion of the traditional recipe aged for extra time in French oak casks. Nothing short of an epiphany can begin to describe ones first sip of this liquid jewel. Few bottles of this make it into the U.S. and those that do, won't last long.
The Order of Chartreuse was more than 500 years old when, in1605, at a Chartreuse monastery in Vauvert, a small suburb of Paris, the monks received a gift from Francois Hannibal d' Estrées, Marshal of King's Henri IV artillery : an already ancient manuscript from an "Elixir" soon to be nicknamed "Elixir of Long Life". This manuscript was probably the work of a 16th century alchemist with a great knowledge of herbs and with the skill to blend, infuse, and macerate the 130 of them to form a perfect balanced tonic. The manuscript's recipe was so complex that only bits and pieces of it were understood and used at Vauvert. At the beginning of the 18th century, the manuscript was sent to the Mother House of the Order - La Grande Chartreuse - in the mountains not far from Grenoble. Here an exhaustive study of the manuscript was undertaken. The Monastery's Apothecary, Frère Jerome Maubec, finally unraveled the mystery and, in 1737, drew up the practical formula for the preparation of the Elixir. The distribution and sales of this new medicine were limited. One of the monks of La Grande Chartreuse, Frère Charles, would load his mule with the small bottles that he sold in Grenoble and other nearby villages. Today, this "Elixir of Long Life" is still made only by the Chartreuse monks following that ancient recipe, and is called Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse. This "liqueur of health" is all natural plants, herbs and other botanicals suspended in wine alcohol - 69% alcohol by volume, 138 proof. All of these liqueurs are made only by monks and are based on that ancient manuscript given in 1605. The sales of the liqueurs allow the Chartreuse Monks the funds necessary to survive in this commercial world and give to them the ability to dedicate their lives to prayer and meditation.