The distribution and sales of this new medicine were limited. One of the monks of La Grande Chartreuse, Frere Charles, would load his mule with small bottles and lead it to Grenoble and other villages in the area. Today, this "Elixir of Long Life" is still made only by Chartreuse monks following that ancient recipe, and is called Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse.
This monk, the one with the original manuscript, was arrested by the Revolutionary forces and sent to prison in Bordeaux. Fortunately, he was not searched and was able to secretly pass the original manuscript to some unknown savior who smuggled it back to the area of La Grande Chartreuse where he was able to get into the hands of a Chartreuse monk who was hiding near the monastery.
When Monsieur Liotard died, his heirs returned the manuscript to the Chartreuse monks who had returned to their monastery in 1816. In 1838, the Chartreuse distillers developed a sweeter and milder form of that original recipe. Since it was no longer a vivid green, this new liqueur was identified as, and is known today as, "Yellow Chartreuse" (40 percent alcohol by volume, 80 proof).
Early in the years following the nationalization of the distillery and monastery, the French government sold the trademark "Chartreuse" to a group of liqueur distillers who formed a company - "Compagnie Fermiere de la Grande Chartreuse". The liqueur made by this company had no semblance of the liqueur made from the manuscript. Compagnie Fermiere de la Grande Chartreuse failed and went bankrupt in 1929. The company's stock became valueless and the shares were bought up by friends of the monks and were presented to the monks as a gift. Thus, the monks regained possession of the Chartreuse trademark. They returned to their distillery, which had been constructed in 1860 at Fourvoirie, not far from the monastery, and resumed production of the true Chartreuse liqueurs.
In 1935, an avalanche roared down the mountainside and destroyed the Fourvoirie distillery. A new distillery was built in Voiron where the railroad aided in the world-wide distribution of the liqueurs. While the distillery is in Voiron, the selection and mixing of the secret herbs, plants and other botanicals used in producing the liqueurs is done in the monastery by two monks.
Since 1970, a company named Chartreuse Diffusion has been responsible for the bottling, packaging and marketing of the liqueurs plus a few other products selected by the monks for their high quality. Only two monks have been entrusted by the Order with the secret of producing the liqueurs. Only these two know the ingredients. Only these two know how these ingredients are prepared for incorporation into the base of wine alcohol. What little is known is that some 130 herbs, plants, roots, leaves, and other natural bits of vegetation are soaked in alcohol for an unknown length of time, then distilled and mixed with distilled honey and sugar syrup before being put into large oaken casks and placed into the world's longest liqueur cellar for maturation.
By 1737, the manuscript was in 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, was in charge of the study which finally succeeded in unraveling the complexities of the Chartreuse Liqueur recipe.
Chartreuse Elixir was first made!