With more gin available than ever, distilleries need to bring their best to new bottlings.
Gin is still a thing. The boom over the last decade keeps rolling on. Gin has surpassed vodka as the clear spirit of choice for drinkers in Australia, and there are some 1,000-odd Australian gins on the market.
So if you're a distillery bringing a new gin into the world, you probably want to make sure you're bringing your best.
Does the newest bottling to arrive in Australia from from France's Citadelle Gin live up to that mark? Can you find a place for Citadelle Jardin d’Été on your back bar and in your mixing repertoire?
For this review, I've co-opted bartender and writer Andrew Ratcliff to share his opinion in addition to mine. He’s an experienced veteran of the bar, one who spent a lot of time behind the stick at The Baxter Inn, a former brand ambassador, and is currently running things at the Clocktower Bar at Shell House in Sydney. He’s written reviews for Time Out Sydney, and written on this website before — he’s also a good friend.
I’ve included both my and Andy’s scores for this bottle, not because I think individual scores are everything — numerical scores can sometimes miss the point of drinking good hooch — but because I think it can be useful to set a baseline of quality over time. This was a sample bottle provided to us for review.
I’d love to hear from you about these reviews, too, and about what you'd like to see more of. You can get me at firstname.lastname@example.org. — Sam Bygrave
What we know about Citadelle Jardin d’Été Gin
Citadelle Jardin d’Été and the flagship Citadelle Gin is made by Maison Ferrand in France.
“You can’t talk about Maison-Ferrand without talking about Alexandre Gabriel,” says Ratcliff. “Alexandre spends his time revitalising and perfecting French spirits. If you get a chance I’d highly recommend checking out the Mathilde liqueur range in the Maison portfolio.”
Citadelle Gin and Citadelle Jardin d’Été is made in the southwest of France, at Château de Bonbonnet, the home of Maison Ferrand in the Cognac region.
The bottle itself is a sight to behold, and we both liked the label design. “It’s great that once again, the details of the juice are on the bottle,” says Ratcliff. “Transparency is very good. People should know what they’re getting in the bottle.”
The gin is built upon the bones of the original Citadelle gin’s 19 botanical line-up, with the addition of four more summery, garden-inspired ingredients: melon flesh, whole lemon, yuzu zest, and orange peel. Those four ingredients are cold-distilled, too, which should ensure that the spirit retains the lighter and more delicate fresh aromas of the fruit.
And it really is quite the citrus bomb, as our tasting notes below make out, and whilst I can see the benefit of it in a citrus-forward and lighter style Martini, Ratcliff doesn’t agree.
“Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of this in a Martini cocktail,” he says. “It just doesn’t have the juniper backbone you need.
“This would be better suited in a Hotel Georgia cocktail. Add some orgeat, lemon and aromatics to it and I’m sure it would sing like Serge Gainsbourg, all the way back to the bar (or piano).”
So what does it taste like?
Citadelle Jardin d’Été Gin tasting notes
It’s all lemon zest, juniper, green apple and a hint of yuzu. — Andrew Ratcliff
A big citrus bomb — lemony, zesty, juniper sits right underneath it, a little earthiness to it too. Yeah it's citrusy, but it's definitely gin. — Sam Bygrave
The yuzu takes over along with orange, melon and a smash of lemon peel. — AR
Big, rich, and oily in the mouth again this is all about juicy lemon, zesty, fragrant. So citrus: lemon, zest, mandarin and orange underpinned by a bead of juniper and subtle earthy spice. — SB
The finish is bright and zesty with a fair sprinkling of pepper but lacks the kick of a traditional London dry gin… I guess that’s the point. — AR
It finishes with some hard spice characters, citrusy, a little herbaceous, a long, long finish. — SB
I absolutely love everything that this company produces. It’s obvious that an enormous amount of care and consideration has gone into this gin. Being a big fan of traditional gins such as Tanquray, Beefeater and Plymouth, this isn’t my kind of gin, but damn, it’s bloody tasty stuff. 8.5/10 — AR
You want this poured long — a double measure, good ice, the best tonic you can find. The citrusy profile would play well in a Ramos Gin Fizz, maybe in a Bees Knees, too? It’s big and flavoursome at the relatively mild ABV of 41.5 percent, properly made, and there's a number of ways to mix it. That makes this a winner in my mind. 9/10 — SB