You can learn a lot about a gin if you look at the bottle, especially if you read the press-release that the marketing department put together. In the case of the Citadelle Gin bottle you are looking at a truly handsome beast:
For a start, if you look at the picture you can see a copper-coloured ring around the bottom of the bottle. Rather handily this gives you all 19 botanicals used to make Citadelle Gin – so no need to guess or google today. The botanicals are (in no particular order) Almond, Iris Root, Juniper, Fennel, Anise, Paradise Grain, Orange Peel, Cardamom, Violet, Lemon Peel ,Coriander, Cubeb, Cassia, Licorice, Savory, Nutmeg, Angelica, Cumin, Cinnamon (seriously, Cubeb, who’d have thought that ?). There are even little pictures of each of the botanicals. Next time I’m out foraging for gin flavours I’m taking the bottle with me.
Moving on, you notice the use of copper tones on the bottle. This is important. This gin is produced in (you guessed it) copper stills, actually “Charentais copper pot stills“. This means we are looking at batch produced gin, as opposed to a continuous column-distilled gin. As a result the strongly-flavoured “heads” and “tails” of each batch can be discarded, leaving only the bit that, I’m guessing here, is called the body. Further the copper stills are heated over a naked flame (as opposed to steam), this is a demanding task (just as King Alfred). The plus side is that a naked flame should release more of the essential oils from the botanicals, whilst also allowing the distiller to “create a caramelization at the bottom of the pot still“.
Finally, rather like Doctor Doofenschmirtz, Citadelle Gin has a great back-story. The Gin is produced by the French Cognac maker “Cognac Ferrand“. Now in case you didn’t know it “French AOC laws that allow the distillation of Cognac to occur only November through March.” therefore company needed to find something to do with the stills, and the staff, during the closed season. Enter Cognac Ferrand’s CEO Alexandre Gabriel. He spent 5 years getting a license for gin production (this is France), as well as arranging for a researcher to discover all they could about Citadelle Gin. You see Citadelle gin was originally produced in Dunkirk. In 1775 King Louis XVI granted two Frenchmen, Monsieur Carpeau and Stival, an exclusive license to make gin and flog it to the English, who’d smuggle it back to the homeland, not pay their taxes and thereby bankrupt the English. Although this cunning plan didn’t work the original Citadelle distillery left enough documentation behind to allow Monsieur Gabriel and his team to create a gin inspired by the original Dunkirk gin.
Hopefully by now I’ve peaked your interest in the gin. It’s time to move on to the drink itself.
Day or Night Gin ? It’s 44%, strong enough to make you want to storm the Bastille.
What does it smell of ? At first I was thinking Old-Spice after-shave, but that’s a little unfair. It’s more of a herbal smell.
What does it taste of ? This is where it all starts to unravel a bit. There is a herb taste (the Angelica I presume) and also something a little earthy. There then follows a short spicy flush and a very short finish. It’s not bad as a Genever-style drink, to be taken chilled and straight at the end of a hearty meal.
On to the acid test: how does it work in a Gin and Tonic. Sadly it goes missing. At first I thought my Scheppes tonic water had killed it, however I tried to resusitate the Gin with both the mellow Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic and the more punchy 28 Drinks Tonic. Sadly neither tonic worked. The Gin just disappears in the taste. As Mrs LearnaLittle commented there is now of the sour after-taste of a good G&T.
Buy it ? I picked up a 70cl bottle on offer at the Galeria Kaufhof for €30, saving myself the grand total of €2, almost enough to buy a decent coffee in Frankfurt.
Overall 2/5 I so wanted to love this gin. It has everything that a gin blogger should love. A craft, small-batch producer with an amazing array of botanicals, but in the end the taste is just a little too weak to make me love it.
Anyway, try it yourself and please let me know what you think, via the Comments section.