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Review

Citadelle Reserve Gin

Distillery

Alexandre Gabriel of Cognac Ferrand, Château de Bonbonnet, Ars, France.

Website

Cognac Ferrand and Citadelle Reserve Gin.

History

Cognac Ferrand was founded in 1989 and is situated in the Cognac region of France.

The Gin, launched in 2008, is based on a 1771 recipe as originally made at a distillery in Dunkirk, France. The recipe is subject to possible adjustment each year and thus has an annual “vintage”:

2008 - The recipe was the same as the traditional Citadelle and aged for 6 months.

2009 – The same as 2008 except it was aged for 5 months.

2010 - The recipe was adjusted to take greater account of the oak aging, adding more grains of paradise, iris and violets, plus aged in older casks for 6 months.

2011 - It was produced to a slightly higher ABV – 44.7% - and contained the additional botanicals: yuzu, génépi and blueberry.

2012 – We believe this was the same as the 2011.

Production

This is produced the same way as the traditional Citadelle Gin: It is triple distilled in column stills from neutral wheat grain from the Beauce region of France (Cognac is made during the winter and this Gin is made during the summer). The botanicals are put into teabag-like sachets to infuse in the spirit before the 4th and final distillation in small batches, using traditional copper alembic stills. However, unlike the traditional Citadelle Gin, this is then aged in oak casks (from the cognac making process) for up to 6 months.

The straw/yellow colored liquid is put in frosted bottles decorated with black and gold label, and similar colored graphics on the bottle depicting a nautical theme. Not easily mistaken for the clear colored traditional Citadelle, which is decorated with a similar but blue label (and includes the nautical designs) and is in a blue tinted bottle.

Now we come to the most disappointing part for consumers - there is only a limited production of the Citadelle Reserve for each year’s vintage (and sometimes with restricted markets e.g. not always in the USA) making it difficult to secure!

Category

Barrel Aged Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

Generally 44% (88 Proof).

Price Range

$$$ - $$$$. About $15 more than the traditional Citadelle.

Botanicals

The botanicals vary and may include: almonds (Spain), angelica (Germany), blueberry, cardamom (India), cassia (Indo-china), cinnamon (Sri Lanka), coriander (Morocco), cubeb pepper (Java), cumin (Holland), fennel (Mediterranean), génépi, grains of paradise (West Africa), iris (Italy), juniper berries (France), lemon rind (Spain), liquorice (China), nutmeg (India), orange peel (Mexico), savory (France), star anise (France), violets (France) and yuzu.

Name

Citadelle is French for Citadel – a fortress protecting an entire city, it is the name of the distillery in Dunkirk, France, where this Gin’s recipe originates. Dunkirk was a key port for the spice trade and thus is an undoubted influence on the choice of botanicals for this recipe and the nautical design of the bottle. Reserve is used in the name because the production is limited and large amounts of the “tops” and “tails” of the distillation is discarded.

Tasting Notes

The nose is very close to the traditional Citadelle with perhaps less juniper and citrus but still with herbal and violet tones, plus a hint of vanilla. Soft and full bodied, the palate is inundated with an array of flavors including juniper, (more) citrus, anise, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, oak, (strong) vanilla and violet. The short after taste has (more) spice (cinnamon) with pepper (cubeb), orange and an enticingly faint sweetness. Please note, our tasting has been limited to the 2008 and 2009 “vintages” and thus we expect the tasting notes will be slightly different for each subsequent year.

This is a lovely sipping Gin and is an offbeat but welcome addition to a Martini (perhaps using a citrus garnish rather than olives) and many other Gin cocktails. Like the traditional Citadelle we recommend the continual sampling of this soft and smooth spirit, as it will develop your senses as you try to identify the varying scents and tastes. Whilst it is different to the traditional Citadelle, having more of a Genever feel to it, it is good and we believe puts it into the top 50 gins of the world. It is hard to find anything negative about it – just the difficulty in obtaining a bottle!

Awards & Accolades

90 - 95 Points, Wine Enthusiast.

Bronze Medal, International Spirits Challenge, 2013.

Master Medal, Gin Masters, 2012.

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition, 2010.

Gold Medal, World Spirits Awards, 2010.



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