(Roughly) Daily

“The idea that there might be limits to growth is for many people impossible to imagine”*…

Brother Jean-Jacques, one of monks who knows the secret recipe of Chartreuse, checking on the barrels

Jason Wilson on the Carthusian monks’ decision to limit production of their famed liqueur and what it says about quality and scale in our modern world…

[In January, 2023] a letter from the Carthusian monks in Voiron, France circulated through the world of spirits. It was, in the hackneyed parlance of journalism, a “bombshell.” The letter explains a decision by the monks to limit the production of Charteuse, their famed Alpine liqueur dating to 1605, in order “to focus on their primary goal: protect their monastic life and devote their time to solitude and prayer.”

Apparently this decision had been made quietly in 2021 (quietly being how most decisions are made in a monastic order sworn to a vow of silence). A growing Chartreuse shortage started being noticed by spirits enthusiasts during 2022. The drinks website Punch verified the letter a couple of weeks ago. Chartreuse will now only be sold exclusively under allocation, making it much more difficult to find.

First of all, allow me to applaud this stance by the Carthusian monks. I deeply admire their willingness to say “enough” to the relentless market forces pushing them to produce more, more, more, at all costs. It’s honestly inspiring that the monks refuse to see their earthly purpose as satisfying the demands of some knucklehead mixologist doing his little riff on the Last Word at some lame speakeasy in some third-tier city.

Less but better and for longer. What a refreshing thing to hear in 2023. In nearly every other realm of our soul-crushing age, the focus is to scale everything as big as possible, quality be damned. As someone who operates in a media industry that values an endless stream of cheap, SEO-driven clickbait over well-written, thoughtful content that costs effort and money to produce, I stand with the monks…

Where Has All the Chartreuse Gone?” from @boozecolumnist.

* Donella Meadows


As we find balance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1915 that Absinthe is outlawed in France and several other countries.

Absinthe was a licorice/anise flavored liqueur that contained wormwood, and was 132 proof. The high alcohol content, and the presence of the toxic oil thujone from the wormwood, seemed to cause hallucinations, convulsions, and severe mental problems amongst hard core absinthe drinkers.

In response to the ban, Henry-Louis Pernod, who manufactured Absinthe, came out with the lower alcohol, wormwood free liqueur ‘Pernod’, to replace Absinthe… though Absinthe sales were subsequently reinstated in the E.U.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 16, 2023 at 1:00 am

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