Alexandre Gabriel has quite a track record when it comes to creating new and interesting spirits – Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac and Plantation Pineapple, to name just two. There are plenty more ideas where those came from, and now, Gabriel has an outlet for some of the more outlandish and unusual, through Maison Ferrand's Extrêmes programme.
Gabriel was in London yesterday to present No Mistake Old Tom Gin, which joins his Citadelle range. His interpretation of this historical style involves the use of Caribbean brown sugar, which is caramelised and added to aged Citadelle Reserve – then spends further time in barrels.
The sweetness enhances some of Reserve's already quite floral aromas, adding soft caramel and vanilla notes, and leading to a surprisingly fresh and juicy palate, accompanied by some spice. This makes it ideal for sipping on its own, perhaps over ice, but there's clearly mixing potential here too. See below for details of the cocktail created by Merchant House's, Kieran Rocks.
The gin was originally created as a gift for Martin Cate in San Francisco for the opening of his gin bar, Whitechapel, with only six bottles produced. Much like the origins of Plantation Pineapple, it was well enough received to justify a more general release.
And yet Gabriel is insistent that it won't go the same way as Pineapple. 'It's not something we want to make permanent,' he told Imbibe. 'Next year I'll be on to something else. I've got another ten ready.'
Gabriel took the opportunity yesterday to reveal a secret about Citadelle Reserve's production – that he's been incorporating six different barrels into the ageing process, including four non-oak barrels. For the last three years, elements of the blend have spent time in mulberry, wild cherry, acacia and chestnut barrels, as well as former cognac barrels, with some previously used for pineau des charentes.
A cognac is also joining the Extrêmes programme, labelled Renegade Barrel Pierre Ferrand, and finished in former Sauternes barrels – a practice thought by many to be prohibited, but discovered by Gabriel to fall on the right side of regulations. 'It's an ancient way of making cognac,' he explained. 'It's in the DNA of cognac.'
The gin and cognac are expected to hit our shores by the end of October, with RRPs of £60 and £70, respectively. Plantation is getting the Extrêmes treatment too, in the form of full-proof, single barrel releases, but there aren't currently plans for those to make it to the UK.
The overall plan for the Extrêmes programme is to release a new limited edition Ferrand, Citadelle and Plantation every year – it's going to be like bartender Christmas.
THE MISSING LINK
By Kieran Rocks, Merchant House
Garnish: Edible flower, micro herbs, black pepper tincture
60ml Citadelle No Mistake Old Tom
1 dash orange bitters
1 egg white
2.5ml apricot brandy
12.5ml house-made vanilla and hazelnut orgeat
2 sprays lime extract essence
Splash sparkling pine water