The story ofÂ Citadelle GinÂ as we know it today began in 1980â€™s, but the brand is steeped in history that dates much further back.Â The original recipe for Citadelle Gin was developed by a distillery in Dunkirk in 1771 (at the time an important port for the spice trade).Â In 1775, Louis XVI authorised two Frenchmen, Carpeau and Stival, to open a distillery making geniÃ¨vre at the Citadelle of Dunkirk, which soon became a royal distillery with an exclusiveÂ 20-year charter. The two founders had 12 traditional copper potÂ stills made for the distillery, allegedly the first of its type in France.
Skip forward a few hundred years andÂ Citadelle GinÂ is now produced in Cognac, the birthplace of anotherÂ fine spirit and home to a few other French gins. In the Late 1980â€™sÂ Alexandre GabrielÂ decided it was time to distil a gin and began doing research, pillaging through old records and files in Flanders and thenÂ developing a modern plan to distil gin at theÂ Pierre Ferrand CognacÂ distillery. After coming across the story ofÂ Citadelle Gin,Â AlexandreÂ decided that a gin bottled under the Citadelle name and distilled in a similar way to that of the original, produced after more than a centuryâ€™s absence, would be befitting of his vision of bringing excitement and diversity back to the gin category.
By 1989, the research was complete and Gabriel and his team were getting ready to produce the very first batch. Although the production techniques have improved over the centuries,Â Citadelle GinÂ is still made according to principles laid down in the original recipe. This includes some of theÂ botanicalsÂ stated back in 1775 and presumably a few more as we doubt there would have been 19 back then. However, it wasnâ€™t until 1995 that the gin was officially distilled. Since no one had ever received permission to make gin in cognac pot stills in France before and getting permission to do so required braving the French bureaucracy, gin had never been considered.
The process of making Citadelle 'No Mistake' Old Tom gin begins with sugar. Master Blender, Alexandre GabrielÂ discovered a marvelous brown sugar (like Demerara, moist and heavy) during his travels around the Caribbean. This sugar isÂ toasted in copper cauldrons for a first stage of caramelization, then lightly thinned and finally alcoholized.
It is then aged for three to four months in casks. To create this Old Tom, the expertise of the Master Blender consists of supplementing Citadelle RÃ©serve â€“ selected for its floral aspect â€“ with aged sugar, then putting it all back into casks for several months, in order to obtain a perfect blend of all the elements, an ideal integration at 46% alcohol.
The nose isÂ fresh and forceful, revealing juniper, orange zest and cardamom, becoming more floral and vegetal, with jasmine and honeysuckle and notes of fennel and cumin, and almost sweet, with coffee. AÂ full and elegant palate, with a sweet and sour profile of preserved lemon zest, gÃ©nÃ©pi, anise and almond, lengthening to spicy notes of nutmeg, cinnamon and cubeb pepper. Lovely length on rthe finish, floral, spicy and woody, with notes of coriander, violet, angelica, cumin, grains of paradise, and licorice.