“Nothing but the Chartreuse” The Chartreuse Memoirs Day 1
It was sunny July, the day before I left for Chartreuse, I met up with a good friend of mine Josh Linfitt. I distinctively remember saying to Josh “I can’t have a heavy one tonight. I’m flying early in the morning” to which he responded, “cool no worries it will be fine”. So I ended up at the opening party of the now thriving “Resident” bar in Bethnal Green. (check it out if you haven’t already) It was hot, sunny and the booze was flowing. After that, we hit the Sun Tavern for some Irish Whiskey and beer. Then it got a bit hazy as we headed to Cocktail trading Company. It was not a quiet one, I realised this as I walk through London with Josh, a slice of watermelon on a skateboard and a plumb. in our heads the perfect gift for the CTC crew. I’m sure we visited 9 Lives at some point. But I made it back to the hotel safe and sound after a banger of a night, somehow.
The next morning. I was off to meet the rest of the soon to be Chartreuse crew at Kings Cross station. On the trip was Me, Miss Chartreuse herself Jenny, Roxy from LCC and Luke from CTC, #SquadGoals, then on the train, in the plane, last stop France (I’m still pretty hanging at this point).
Lyon to be precise, we landed early in the afternoon and the sun was beaming. We hopped into the Chartreuse wagon and headed to our first destination. Our guide Yannick, at this point little did I know how much of a true legend he was. I thought I knew a lot about Chartreuse but this guy, fuck, he made me look like I was in Chartreuse primary school. We arrive at the Chartreuse cellars in Voiron, I felt like I was a Charlie and I had just arrived at the Chocolate Factory with my golden ticket (but better). Chartreuse was distilled here from 1935 when the original distillery was destroyed by a landslide, this site is now used as a visitor centre, the production had to be moved out of the city centre. The Voiron Cellar is the longest in Europe and they can fit a lot of the good stuff down there. We started off with a look at chartreuse through the ages (bottles dating back to 1840) a peek at a few of the 130 herbs and spices that go into making the green stuff, a scale model of the Monastery (which for some reason I kept calling a monkerage) after a demonstration on the production. We headed into the cellars, it was long (surprisingly), the barrels were huge, the smell was intoxicating, and I was jittering with excitement. There were casks of all different shapes and sizes, all of the casks had chalkboards with scribes on, used so the monks know what’s in it and for how long. Some of the casks had huge lumps of crystallised chartreuse, these are formed when there’s a small leak, the sugars in the Chartreuse crystallises and block it up. They looked delicious, sweet crisp with a stickiness that hangs on your palette for what feels like hours, but I wouldn’t know, I defiantly didn’t snap a bit off and eat it... after we headed upstairs for a range tasting, it was fantastic obviously, this was the first time I tried, Chartreuse Liqueur D’Elixir 1605, I was blown away and its now a firm personal favourite. After the range tasting and being gifted some sexy swag from Yan (I’ll be calling Yannick, Yan from now on because we're friends now) it was off the hotel for a bit of a freshen up.
Dinner time, and probably, to this day one of the best culinary experiences I’ve ever had. We hopped in the car and made our way to the restaurant. Winding through tight country lanes and beautiful scenery. Then we arrived at "Hotel des Bains" in Charavines, it was picturesque. The sun was on its way down as we took a seat on plastic garden furniture, at a big round table, under a huge tree decorated with multi-coloured lights. I had no idea what to expect. We chatted about the day’s events, while Yan perused the wine list that was the size of the yellow pages. The Restaurant was a hub of atmosphere, laughter, chatter. there was a big French man behind us demolishing frogs’ legs and guzzling wine, there was just something about this place. When it came to ordering food, we all agreed to let Yan take the reins and order. Yan ordered me Fios Gras, which I thought was just pate until everyone explained what it actually is (give me a shout if you want to know the secret) I sat there thinking about it, how it would taste? What would the texture be like? Would I like it? Then the dish came sat in front of me, I took a sip of wine (which was fucking unbelievable might I add) I spread some across fresh crusty bread, then bosh and explosion of flavour in my mouth, unbelievable rich umami, silky-smooth texture, I took another sip of wine. The flavours bounced off each other, so I had more and more, before I knew it was gone. I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating here but it literally blew me away. The steak cooked to perfection, with more epic wine. To finish off this unbelievable meal a shit load of cheese, with more wine obviously. But it wasn't just the food that made this experience. Throughout the meal the conversation was flowing, jokes were made, and laughs were had, and 3 and a half hours flew past. To finish the meal off, a 17-year-old Chartreuse bottled for a Symposium in 2003. It was sweet with white chocolate, then with a back note of Chinese 5 spice and lingering menthol freshness, it was a perfect finish. We left and headed back to the hotel for a couple more shots of the good stuff and sleep after a long, eventful day. That was just day one.