In 1605, the Maréchal d'Estrées gave a mysterious formula for an "Elixir of Longevity" to the monks of the Chartreuse de Vauvert in Paris. The recipe wasn't used until 1737. It was then that the apothecary of the Grande Chartreuse drew up the definitive formula. Still made under the name ""Elixir Végétal de la Grande-Chartreuse"", its ABV is
71°. Weaker in alcohol content (55°), the Chartreuse Verte, known as ""Liqueur de Santé" ["Health Liquor"] was perfected in 1764. The Revolution broke out. The monks were dispersed, some arrested, and the Carthusian order found itself under threat of extinction. Yet their secret remained miraculously under wraps. The monks reformed as the Grande Chartreuse in 1816. In 1838, the formula was altered, resulting in a more mellow, less alcoholic liqueur with an ABV of 40° called the Chartreuse Jaune. Yet strife reared its head once more, and the monks found themselves expulsed from France in 1903, travelling with their secret recipe to seek refuge in Tarragona in Spain. They continued to make their famous liqueur there, now bearing a label indicating "distilled in Tarragona". Sold by the State, their brand was used until 1929 by the Compagnie Fermière de la Grande Chartreuse for the production of liqueurs completely unrelated to those of the Carthusian monks. From 1921, the liqueurs of the Carthusian monks were produced simultaneously in two different locations, in Marseille and Tarragona. The bottles bear the words "Une Tarragone" on their labels. It wasn't until 1929 that the monks were once again permitted to use the name "Chartreuse". The recipes of the various liqueurs remain a mystery to this day. No fewer than 130 different plants are used to make the elixir. They are first macerated in alcohol before being distilled. Their colour is due to the plants they contain. Distilled honey and sugar syrup is added to the mix, before it is left to age in oak barrels.