In recent months, bottles of Chartreuse have been hard to come by. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like that will be changing anytime soon.
The bright-green liqueur is made by Carthusian monks in the French Alps, and those monks have decided that they’d rather focus on prayer and solitude than on churning out alcohol, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. As such, fans of the herbal quaff have been stocking up when they come across available bottles.
“The monks are not in this to drive Mercedes and live a lavish life,” Tim Master, the senior director of spirits at Frederick Wildman and Sons, the only American importer of Chartreuse, told the WSJ.
The liqueur, which comes from a secret recipe given to the monks in the 17th century, now contains about 130 herbs, spices, and flowers—and only a select few know the exact blend. In a January letter, Chartreuse Diffusion—the French company that distributes the drink and handles business communications—said the monks had decided to “protect their monastic life” and were “not looking to grow the liqueur beyond what they need to sustain their order.” So production has been capped at about 1.2 million bottles a year, about 10 percent less than in 2021.
While that may still sound like a lot of Chartreuse, it’s not nearly enough to meet the high demand for the spirit. Sales have grown a whopping 47 percent over the past year when compared with the 12 months prior, according to Drizly data cited in The Wall Street Journal. Some liquor stores haven’t had Chartreuse in stock for almost a year, while those that have gotten their hands on it sell out quickly. Yet that hasn’t swayed the monks to crank up production.
“Unlike nearly all other companies in the world, the monks don’t care about constant growth,” Father Michael Holleran, a former Carthusian monk who led Chartreuse production in the late 1980s, told the WSJ.
Perhaps if the monks shared the recipe, they wouldn’t have to be the only ones in charge of meeting demand. But that seems even more unlikely than increasing output, and Holleran wouldn’t give any insight into what makes up the drink. But he did note that the best way to enjoy it is neat, no ice. If you’re more of a cocktail person, though, we’ve got you covered.