Review: Citadelle Gin (2009) and Citadelle Reserve Gin 2008 Vintage

Review: Citadelle Gin (2009) and Citadelle Reserve Gin 2008 Vintage


One occasionally gets in the mood for gin, and when one does, said mood hits hard. Citadelle is a relative newcomer to the scene… with not one but two gins for your drinking pleasure. These gins hail, unusually, from France, and both are 88 proof, distilled from wheat.

citadelle-ginUp first is standard Citadelle Gin (2009), though there’s little that’s standard about its botanicals. I’ll let Citadelle explain itself rather than digesting it here. Part of an uncovered recipe from the 18th century, Citadelle includes 19 botanicals: “coriander from Morocco; orange peel from Mexico; cardamom and nutmeg from India; licorice from China; cubeb pepper from Java; juniper, savory, violet and star anise from France; fennel from the Mediterranean; iris from Italy; cinnamon from Sri Lanka; almonds and lemon rind from Spain; cassia from Indochina; angelica from Germany; grains of paradise from West Africa; and cumin from Holland.”

That’s quite a concoction, but the juniper is tragically the most prevalent component here. You’ll also get notes of the more earthy parts of the blend, especially the cardamom and coriander. Citrus notes are lacking, which was a big disappointment for me. I tried this in a casino cocktail but it clashed with the other elements. Some say tonic is is Citadelle’s best fit, and that’s a combination I can get behind. B / $25 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

I was a much bigger fan of Citadelle Reserve Gin 2008 Vintage, which infuses the spirit with the same 19 spices but then ages the blend in oak cognac casks for six months. Each bottle is vintage dated (mine is 2008), though I doubt you’ll see much variation from year to year.

I liked this far better than the unaged Citadelle, though the strongly yellow color is surprising. The juniper is much more understated after that time in the barrel, and a nice vanilla sweetness comes into the forefront. It’s very citrusy on the tongue, with a lively spiciness — perhaps that is the cubeb pepper? While far from anything I’d describe as traditional, Citadelle Reserve is good enough to merit possible replacement of Plymouth as my go-to standard gin (and it’s amazing in cocktails)… but does six months in oak really merit a $15 price hike? Yikes. A / $40 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Citadelle Gin (2009)




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. B.E. Earl on February 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I think gin, in general, is an under-appreciated spirit.

    $40 a bottle is pretty steep considering the price of Sapphire or Tanq 10, but I would definitely be willing to give it a try.

    Heading to the liquor store tomorrow for supplies. We’ll see if it is there. Thanks!

  2. Jeff on January 3, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Got a bottle for Christmas as I’m a gin fan (Martinis year round and G&Ts during the warmer months). Mixed a couple of martinis with the Citadelle gin last week and I must say this is a very unusual gin.

    The initial attack is all pepper and spice which is quite aggressive. Surprisingly though, the follow up tastes are non existent. Your palate goes perfectly dry like you’ve just swallowed a desicant from an aspirin bottle. I’m not sure if it’s the harshness of the initial spice wave or what but I’ve never had a gin go completely blank that early in the tasting.

    Some people have described the tastes as heavy on orange peel. I’m not picking up that much citrus peel sweetness followed by bitterness as I do spicy pepper, but bitter followed by very, very dry mouth would be accurate.

    The closest thing I’ve had to this was Tanq Malacca perhaps. Citadelle is very unusual Gin. Not for the timid of palate. Normally I wouldn’t put a top shelf gin in a G&T but this one might be a candidate as it should lose some of its sharpness with mixing.

  3. VM on February 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I am a gin drinker and I also got a bottle (1.75ml) of the standard for Christmas and fell in love with it. I mix it with diet tonic which brings the drink to the 100 calorie mark. No need for lime to spoil the flavor. The only problem is that it tastes so good I do a 50/50 mix and tend to drink too much if I don’t watch out since I like to drink plenty of fluids.

    I used to go for the medium and bottom shelf stuff and just add a lime but now I can’t go back. I got my liquor store to carry the 1.75ml bottle and I pay $32 which is about 25% less than Saphire, my 2nd choice.

  4. Jim on September 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Stricktly a Martini man…always gin…shaken,not stired. I was given a bottle a couple of years ago for Christmas. I fell in love after the first Martini! I’m on a lower budget, but a couple of times a year, especially on vacation, I have to have a bottle. I used to be Tanguray, or Saphire, but this has a much fuller spicier taste. Excellent stuff.

  5. matthew Harris on April 21, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Citadelle makes a great gibson, and tastes really nice in the summer. It’s got a French feel to it. I choose this the reason I’d choose a glass of Chardonnay. At first sip, there’s a tart alcohol taste, but then a cool licorice undertone comes through. Order it 5 or 6pm on a summer Friday, while it’s still hot and sunny out.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.