Naked Flame Distillation
It’s better to be naked
“How would you like your steak cooked?” asks Alexandre Gabriel, proprietor of the Maison Ferrand and producer of Citadelle Gin. “Would you like it cooked in a pressure cooker or cooked in a pan? Both cooking methods will essentially give you the same end result – a cooked piece of meat – but with VERY different taste! Wouldn’t you rather the steak seared in a skillet over a flame that produces that tasty caramelization?”
Alexandre often uses this analogy to help people understand how his Citadelle gin is distilled versus almost every other gin on the market. Because Citadelle is crafted in small copper pot stills with beautiful low swan necks OVER AN OPEN FLAME. Or a naked flame, as we like to say.
Citadelle gin is distilled in exactly the same way it was originally distilled in 1775.
Historically, all spirits at the time were distilled this way. But as the Industrial Revolution struck, people chose the easier and more care-free steam heating method. Why? Because ‘cooking’ on a naked flame came with great risk – when the flame came too close to alcohol it would ignite and entire distilleries frequently burned to the ground. So people turned to steam distillation and either enrobed their pot still in what’s called a ‘steam jacket’ or placed a steam heat exchanger inside the pot still. Easier? Certainly. Safer? Definitely. Cheaper? Yes. So why not make Citadelle this way? For a very simple reason – naked is better!
By distilling over an open flame, the distiller has much greater control over the amount of heat applied and uses this control to actually create a caramelization at the bottom of the pot still, like a steak in a skillet. What does this caramelization do? It gives the spirit a very unique texture and great mouthfeel by producing certain essential oils that can only be found with naked flame distillation. Distilling gin on an open flame requires a deft touch and far more attention than a column still or steam distillation. It also means the gin is made in smaller batches, one cask at a time, allowing the master distiller to precisely discard the ‘heads’ and ‘tails’ of the distillation, and only keeping the precious, flavorful ‘heart’ of the distillation.
The result is a carefully crafted gin, made from whole grain wheat, natural spring water and infused with 19 botanicals that when intermingled allow the complex flavors to create a subtle bouquet with aromas of juniper and citrus.
Thanks to its unique distillation method, Citadelle is elegant, soft and smooth on the palate, with a long aftertaste that expresses its aromatic complexity. It has a subtle bouquet with aromas of juniper and citrus. At 44% alcohol/volume and 88 proof, it achieves the perfect balance between intensity and finesse.
Alexandre Gabriel began to study the distillation methods used to make genever – the French ancestor of Gin. He hired a scholar to help him rummage through a century-old archive in a medieval city in Dunkirk, France. Here they found some incredible things including notes on ancient distillation methods to make gin (some as old as 250 years). They refreshed the ingredients to perfect the taste – and Citadelle Gin was born.