The story behind the colour
An historian on the trail of Green Chartreuse can easily get lost. Which came first, the colour or the liqueur? Etymology can help show the way.
The name of the colour, Chartreuse green, comes from the liqueur, the name of the liqueur comes from the religious order, and the name of the order comes from the mountain range. But where does the name of the mountain range come from?
Chartreuse, one name for so many things: colour, liqueur, religious order, mountain range and area. The mountain range is named after the village of Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, which is close to the site chosen by St Bruno in 1084 for the Grande Chartreuse monastery. In the Middle Ages, the village was called Calma Trossa, meaning ploughed or cleared prairie. With the passing of time, the name became Charme Trousse, and then Chartrousse in Dauphinois, which the monks Latinised into Cartusia. Thus, the name of the mountain range is a subtle blend of Latin and Dauphinois.
Much later, the Chartreuse Mountains gave their name to a colour.
“The only liquor so good they named a color after it”
Where does this colour come from?
Before donning its inimitable hue, the original Elixir was red and Chartreuse was almost brown. However, it very quickly took on its signature colour, a shade of green that is so distinctive it was named after the liqueur. The ingredients that create this natural colour are a carefully guarded secret. Is it due to chlorophyll? A key vegetable pigment? No one knows and no clues have slipped out since 1605.