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1945-1951

Pleasure Wine: 1945-1951 Chartreuses

 

The Chartreuse of 1945-1951 (Tarragona)

 

Although the monks moved all their equipment from Marseille to Fourvoirie in March 1932, following their triumphant return to France, the Tarragona distillery was kept open in parallel. Its activity allowed the Carthusians to supply the Spanish, Portuguese and South-American markets. In December 1932, a decree was passed by the Spanish Government, regulating not only foreign workers but also religious orders. The French Carthusian monks were thus specifically targeted. All the employees of the distillery that didn't have the Spanish nationality were ousted from Tarragona in 1933. Only a handful of Brothers remained, trying to keep the production of Chartreuses going.

Five years laters, in 1938, the Spanish Civil War was in full swing and the few monks still in Tarragona were worried. Things were getting really difficult for them: the Spanish Revolutionary Army was actively trying to expropriate them and seize the building, planes kept raining bombs on the city, alcohol and sugar were impossible to come by, exporting products was a nightmare... The Carthusian Fathers were running on fumes to make a living and be able to pay their Spanish employees. In 1943, the Tarragona distillery decided to work with some American liquorists, in order to manufacture a new high quality Brandy (the ideal solution for the monks, as Brandy production doesn't necessitate any sugar), designed for the United States and United Kingdom markets only: the "Brandy CAR la Tarragonesa".

The word "CAR" was a reference to "Cartujos" (or "Carthusian" in Spanish). A dedicated label can actually still be found on the back of some bottles of Chartreuse that came out during the 1945-1951 period, reminding the public of the existence of the monks' new eau-de-vie. Later, World War II became another huge thorn in the Carthusian Fathers' side, as exports to the United States were at an all-time low after 1945 (although the Cuba market was growing, since they bought Brandy in exchange for much needed sugar). Until the 1950's, the sugar crisis was heavily weighing on the Spanish Chartreuse. In 1953, things were finally starting to look a bit brighter for the monks.

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