Chartreuse 1963-Today | VEP
The Chartreuse "VEP" of 1963-Today (Voiron)
To celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II as queen of England, on June 2nd 1953, the Carthusian Fathers kept one of their Chartreuse cuvées in a wooden vat which bore the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. This vat was then opened ten years later and (at first) only sold in Britain. The resulting Chartreuse series was called a "VEP" for "Vieillissement Exceptionnel Prolongé" (in English, "Exceptionally Prolonged Aging") and its bottles were numbered. This limited release was a huge hit at the time and British and French liqueur amateurs treated it like luxury goods.
Although the official VEP Chartreuse was born in the 1960's, its prototype is a bit older than that. In 1932, the monks made the very first special Chartreuse cuvée, adding a second label to the bottles that simply said "Vieillissement Exceptionnel" (in English, "Exceptional Aging"). There are three series of these VEP ancestors: the 1932-1942 cuvée was the first one to see the light of day, then came the 1940-1950 and finally the 1944-1954 one. All three of them stayed ten years in oak barrels, exactly like the current VEP.
Victim of its own success in France, the VEP Chartreuse truly became iconic in 1968. The year of the Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble. The Chartreuse brand chose to focus its entire marketing efforts on the event, going as far as to add the five Olympic rings as well as a red, white and blue ribbon to their bottles. The 1968 VEP became officially known as the "Olympic Cuvée" and is still highly sought-after today by memorabilia collectors. During these same Olympic Games, the chartreuse color was also born. A sports commentator used the term to describe the green jumpsuit worn by a competing American figure skater. It stuck with the audience.
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