Review: Vintage Chartreuse



Growing up, my grandpa was a big fan of green Chartreuse as an evening sipper. The rest of the family didn't touch the stuff, allowing Chartreuse to exist in my mind as an old-timey, out of place quirk until the cocktail renaissance. Personal sentiment aside, there's a handful of reasons people chase down the vintage expressions: the spirit keeps changing in the bottle, seasonal variance of the 130 botanicals can affect flavor, and multiple production locations through its storied history. Each of these expressions was produced at the Voiron facility.

 

1980s Yellow Chartreuse - 40%


Sweeter and stickier than I typically sip, but the notes are wonderfully fresh and lively and not bogged down by the anise I often find in current versions. Plenty of mustard, dill, and citrus - wet, lawnmower grass. Slower moving and less complex than the Greens. Nice dessert pour.


2018 Green Chartreuse - 55%


The cocktail renaissance for me. Licorice layered with fresh herbs - thyme and oregano. Slightly artificial and sticky - mossy on the back. The transitions aren't well integrated where the ethanol pops. I still dig it.


2003 Green Chartreuse - 55%


Transitions and ethanol have mellowed - deepened and integrated. Herbal notes have dried. Blend of sweet and savory. Caramelized notes. Over-steeped green tea. Dried oregano. White pepper. Long and integrated on the palate. More intensely herbal - especially in the finish.


1960s/1970s Green Chartreuse - 55%


Church incense in a big way - Frankincense. Smells intangibly old. Open up a dusty, spice cabinet. It's all there - like drinking old, spicy cologne. Body and structure is streamlined and dynamic. Pleasant bitterness. One of those special spirits that lets you know something rare is happening.


Score


1980s: 7 (Highly Recommend) Would hang with the highest quality contemporary liquors.


2018: 6 (Above Average) I'd cocktail with it, but I'm not sipping it.


2003: 8 (Stash One) Surprised with degree of improvement over the 2018.


60/70s: 9 (Stash Two) Not sure you can replicate this profile without extended resting.


Archived Scores

 

Rating System

10 - Reevaluate The Budget

9 - Stash Two (If Able)

8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)

7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers

6 - Solid - Above Average

5 - Acceptable For The Situation

4 - Not Vocally Complaining

3 - Anything Else To Drink?

2 - Nothing Nice To Say

1 - Drain Pour

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