Alexandre Gabriel, the man behind Citadelle Gin, was in town recently to unveil the new look bottle and show off some new signature serves.
We have noted previously on BarLifeUK that we are very lucky to have so many characters in this wonderful industry of ours. Within a couple of minutes of the start of Alexandre’s presentation at the stunning Galvin at Windows, a quick look around at the grinning and enthralled faces confirmed we were with another one.
Alexandre is best known in the industry as the man behind Cognac Ferrand, although it should be pointed out he didn’t start the cognac house, it’s one of the oldest in the world and as far as we know he isn’t a distillers version of Marty McFly.
Alexandre actually got involved with the distillery during his time at business school in Paris. It wasn’t long before he had brought the brand back to it’s former glory. It wasn’t cognac he was in town to talk about however it turned out his cognac skills have a lot to do with his gin range.
Cognac production is highly regulated (well it is French after all) and one of these regulations ensures that it can only be produced between November and March. Alexandre is not a man who appears to thrive with lot’s of spare time on his hands so it didn’t take long before he decided to take on a new project during this downtime, from here Citadelle Gin was born.
During his time studying the history and production of gin Alexandre came across a gin produced in a citadelle (or old fort) in Dunkirk in the 18th Century. He tracked down an old recipe, fiddled with it a little to match it to modern pallets and started producing gin at his cognac headquarters Chateau de Bonbonnet. In homage to this the year this old gin was first produced, 1775, is embossed on the neck of the bottles.
Citadelle Gin contains 19 botanicals including juniper and violet root from France, coriander from Morocco, Dutch cumin, Indian nutmeg and Mediterranean fennel. The botanicals are heavily featured in the new design with all 19 being highlighted on the copper band running round the bottle.
It is the way with gin’s these days that they like to boast about their unique production aspect, the element that see’s them stand out from the increasingly busy crowd. In a lot of cases these claims seem to offer little or no actual difference to the final product, thankfully in the case of Citadelle this is not the case.
Remember those cognac rules we mentioned earlier? Well they come back into play here. They state that cognac must be double distilled in Alambic Charentais pot stills. These stills are used in the off season to make Citadelle Gin, the only gin in the world currently to be produced in gas fired alambic charentais stills.
These stills are also heated by naked flames (giving the gin it’s tagline ‘It’s better to be naked’) a very skillful and labour intensive process. It also gives a caramelisation to the product as it is distilled which adds a unique texture and mouthfeel that really comes across when you try the gins. This distillation process also ensures it is made in small batches.
Another of these pesky cognac rules is that it needs to be aged for at least 2 years in oak barrels/casks. Once again the knowledge Alexandre gained from this process has been used in his gin production.
Citadelle Gin has a sibling, Citadelle Reserve which also comes in at 44% abv but is aged in seasoned French oak barrels using the Solera method for a few months before being bottled. Alexandre was quick to point out barrel aged gin is not a new idea as back when glass was an unrealistic option for transportation gin was put into barrels to be sent around the world.
There were lot’s more stories, anecdotes and informations that we don’t have room for here however fear not. During May Paul McFadyen of Instil Drinks is touring the country to talk you through all of Alexandre’s fine products, which also included Plantation Rum on top of the cognac and gin.
We strongly suggest you head along to the nearest session as not only will you get to find out more about the brands but Paul will be sampling many of the brands as well. The session dates and locations are as follows (all run from 3pm – 5:30pm):
6th May – Red Light, Bristol
8th May – Island Bar, Birmingham
12th May – Jakes Bar & Still Room, Leeds
14th May – Under New Management (old Corridor), Manchester
19th May – Aloha, Liverpool
21st May – Hush, London
27th May – Bon Vivants, Edinburgh
29th May – The Loft, South London
2nd June – Laverys, Belfast
4th June – Made in the Shade, East London