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Ahhh, the French, either you love them or hate them, but there’s no getting around them. I find myself leaning towards being a Francophile, after all they produce great food and wine and champagne and cognac and have even expanded to vodka and now gin. And of course, if they’re going to do it, they will naturally go over the top as only they can.

CLASSICGin

As I’ve said previously, gin is my favorite flavor of vodka. Just give it a thought for a minute, if you didn’t add all those botanicals, you’d have a pretty decent vodka. Most distillers put a handful of botanicals in their gin and some might put in 10 or 12, but leave it to the French to infuse their Citadelle gin with 19 botanicals. That’s not gin; it’s a freaking herb garden. Check it out:

Violet root
Paradise Grain
Orange Peel
Cardamom
Anise
Cubeb
Coriander
Lemon Peel
Cassia
Licorice
Savory
Nutmeg
Angelica
Cumin
Cinnamon
Almond
Iris Root
Juniper
Fennel

If you add a touch of garlic and tomato paste, I bet you’d have a terrific spaghetti sauce. On top of that, they have created what might turn out to be a very interesting gin indeed. They take their Citadelle gin and age it for 6 months in Pierre Ferrand Cognac casks to produce Citadelle Reserve Gin. Spoiler alert: Ferrand cognac just happens to be one of my all time favorite cognacs. This might be a really great idea as no one has ever aged gin in cognac casks before or this might be a really bad idea which is why no one has done it before. Let’s see if it’s a rant or a rave!

The standard Citadelle gin is as transparent as water, but that’s where the similarity ends. The nose, unlike all other gins, is not juniper forward but a complex mélange of licorice, juniper, orange and lemon and cinnamon. It is tangy, if not spicy, and very interesting. On the palate, the juniper again becomes part of the symphony and not the lead instrument. The floral notes and spice notes intermingle, and I can easily pick out the nutmeg and almond as well as the orange and lemon. The proportions of each botanical seem just about perfect. The finish is smooth yet spicy leaving a lingering floral taste that lasts a moderate amount of time. This one just cracked the barrier into my top 5 favorite gins of all time.

citadelle-reserve

Citadelle Reserve Gin is a very pale golden yellow in color. On the nose, the aromas of all the botanicals seem to have combined more evenly and now are harder to distinguish; however, the juniper is certainly there right along with the coriander and cumin, while the bright notes of the lemon and orange are more muted. It would seem that aging in cognac casks tends to more thoroughly integrate all the flavors. On the palate, I get the spice notes and fruit flavors along with the juniper in equal proportions and backing it all up is a delicious oaky, cognac flavor that mutes the other flavors a bit more but does not make them any less complex or less tasty. This gin has a lot going for it and a lot going on in it. Each sip literally presents a slightly different flavor profile, which makes for a very interesting drink. The finish is floral and botanical and oaky and just delicious and smooth and leaves a slight tingle. This baby just broke into my top three favorite gins of all time. You gotta go get you some and try it and let me know what you think.

Citadelle Gin, 750 ml can be found for around $20.00 to $28.99 and Citadelle Reserve Gin 750 ml can be found for between $35.99 to $44.99.

 

By George Brozowski

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