Citadelle’s seasonal releases — like those from Hendrick’s and others — are now arriving at a regular clip. For 2022, Citadelle offers Citadelle Gin Juniper Décadence, which is an overt homage to, of course, the juniper tree. Not only is it made with “a large portion” of its juniper sourced from Coganc, where the distillery is based, it is also aged in small barrels made from juniper wood. Botanicals in the mix are otherwise the same as Citadelle’s standard bottling.
If you’ve ever seen a juniper tree, you know that they are quite small, so let’s allow Citadelle explain how one makes a barrel from the thing:
Since the juniper is a modestly sized tree, its wood is not suitable for making long, curved staves, as it is too hard to bend. But it takes more than that to stymie Alexandre’s creative impulses, so special small casks were built with straight sides. These very special barrels have been toasted to accentuate the vegetal, minty and slightly smoky aspect of juniper wood. Maturation in these barrels enhances Citadelle’s original recipe, with its progressive infusion of 19 botanicals, and heightens its notes of sweet orange peel, which meld wonderfully with juniper’s vegetal and smoky aroma. Naturally bursting with juniper, Citadelle Juniper Décadence stands out thanks to its herbaceous notes and striking freshness.
There’s a pale yellow color here that confirms that the gin has seen some barrel time — though clearly not a lot. Bold with juniper, the gin is an immediate deep dive into evergreen notes, though they come across as lightly smoky perhaps due to the barrel aging. Hints of angelica and coriander are present, but nothing as outsized as the juniper proper. On the palate, no surprises: More juniper dominates, that smoky quality becoming a bit more sultry and earthy. Some notes of lemon peel give the finish a spritz of fruit, with a touch of grapefruit and a spare melon note emerging later on. The overall focus, however, remains squarely on piney juniper notes from start to finish, for better or worse. Nothing wrong with it, but the experience does tend to be a little one-note in the end. Whether it is “decadent” or not is for the drinker to decide.
B+ / $35 (700ml) / citadellegin.com