Review: Citadelle Reserve Gin (2018) and Citadelle Extremes No. 1 “No Mistake” Old Tom Gin
While we’ve reviewed various Citadelle Gin bottlings in the past, it’s been a full five years since we’ve seen anything from the brand. For a retrospective, check out our coverage from 2013, 2010, and 2009.
Well, a lot has changed at Citadelle in the last year, which has seen changes to the way Citadelle’s barrel-aged Reserve Gin is produced as well as a brand new product: Citadelle Old Tom style gin. Today we look at both of these, which we’ll talk about in more detail below.
Citadelle Reserve Gin (2018) – Some info from the brand before we taste: “In 2008, Alexandre Gabriel caused quite a sensation by producing wood-aged Citadelle Reserve. No one had seen an aged gin for nearly a century. In those olden days, when glass was too fragile and expensive and plastic and stainless steel were not options, gin was transported in wooden barrels and so, became wood-aged. Fast forward ten years and Alexandre, the mad genius, has pushed the boundaries of aged gin. Enter the wooden egg. Gabriel produces gin and rests it in five different types of woods barrels – Acacia, Mulberry, Cherry, Chestnut and French Oak – for five months. At the end of the five months, the gin is blended together and refined in an eight-foot tall, egg-shaped oak barrel. Citadelle is the only French spirits distiller to date to use this avant-garde technique, keeping in line with the forward-thinking principles and spirit of Alexandre Gabriel and Maison Ferrand.” The formulation of the base spirit appears to be the same, and the 19 botanicals in the bill do not appear to have changed. Note that bottles (which have undergone a redesign) do not appear to be vintage dated any more.
Citadelle Reserve remains a soft and sweet experience, with a floral, slightly dusky nose that folds in vanilla and spices the more you sniff at it. It’s all well balanced and holds together beautifully. On the palate, the mild gin sees an initial rush of green herbs, though this is quickly tempered by more sweetness: vanilla, chocolate, and cloves. The finish finds cinnamon emerging, while echoes of juniper berries linger on the back end. Citadelle Reserve has always been a classic, but the magic of the egg seems to have improved things even further. It’s a rare aged gin that can do doubly duty in classic gin cocktails while also replacing whiskey in a drink. Very, very well done. 90.4 proof. (Note that this has gone up from 88 proof.) A / $45
Citadelle Extremes No. 1 “No Mistake” Old Tom Gin 2016 Vintage – “The result of the latest historical exploration designed to put fresh twists on forgotten liquors, Alexandre turned to 18th century England, where in those days sweet gin was very popular. During the course of his frequent travels to the Caribbean, Alexandre discovered a fabulous brown sugar, similar to Demerara, moist and heavy. Put into copper cauldrons, this sugar is first toasted, then slightly browned and finally alcoholized. It then ages for 3 to 4 months in spirit casks. To create his Extreme, aged sugar is added to aged Citadelle Reserve and then put back into casks for a few months in order for all the elements to become an ideal blend.” 22 botanicals are used in this expression. These bottles — intended to be part of an annually-released experimental line (hence the “No. 1”) are vintage dated with the year of production.
The nose is immediately different from the Reserve gin: Spicier, sweeter, and bigger in every way. It’s also got a more prominent juniper aroma, plus some pepper creeping through. The palate is extremely sweet, almost candylike with all of that brown sugar creating a honey-like, syrupy texture on the palate. Notes of spiced nuts, nougat, and ripe banana are prominent — none of which are really evocative of gin, Old Tom or otherwise. The finish is lengthy, with enduring sugar character drowning out just about everything else. Bottom line: Even though I’ve got a solid sweet tooth when it comes to booze, this was too much for even me. Definitely not for your martini. 92 proof. B- / $55