Citadelle 6C Vodka
Review: Citadelle 6C Vodka (79/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 08, 2012
Citadelle 6C Vodka is a handcrafted spirit produced by Cognac Ferrand. This vodka is initially distilled in a five column still. However the final distillation is carried out on a small copper Charentias pot still. It is during this sixth distillation that very small quantities of a few secret ingredients are incorporated into the distillation. The Citadelle Vodka website gives vague references to special barks and spices but otherwise remains mum on exactly what these secret ingredients are. It is this sixth distillation which gives the vodka its name, 6C, representing the sixth distillation on the Charentias still which is where the master distiller uses his art to create the delicate flavours which add special character (and delicate flavour) to the Vodka.
The Citadelle Vodka is distilled from whole wheat grown on the plains of Beauce in Central France. Only pure wheat grain is used in the distillation as the bran or husk of the wheat is removed to ensure that this bran will not disturb the vodka’s delicate flavour. According to the Citadelle website, distillation of the bran contributes to the production of methanol and other deleterious products which would disturb the final flavour or taste of the vodka.
The First Impression 8.5/10
The bottle presentation for the Citadelle 6 c Vodka is shown to the left. I think that you will agree with me that the bottle is very original and looks quite nice. My only quibbles are the metallic screw cap closure and the rather small front label which seems to lack the ‘pop’ that the bottle possesses. I think by now most readers of my reviews know that I despise metallic closures especially on Vodka bottles. A spirit which is likely to be thrown in a freezer over night to chill should not have a closure which will expand and contract with heat and cold at a greater rate than the bottle it seals.
However, I do like how this particular bottle looks on my review shelf.
The First Sip 13.5/20
As I regularly do, I invited several friends to join me for my first sampling of the Citadelle Vodka. We tasted five different Vodkas from around the world in a blind format that day including two Slavic Vodkas, one Vodka from Texas, one Canadian Vodka, and of course this French Vodka. The first part of the tasting involves all of us sampling the spirit chilled (to about 1 degree Celsius) and gathering our initial impressions on the nose and the flavour of the first sip. When it was time to sample the Citadelle Vodka, I poured out 5 shot-glasses , one for each of us, and we began to take notes. Everyone agreed the vodka was very clean with only whispers of aroma in the glass. A light touch of grain was all anyone could smell (although at warmer temperature a hint of lemon-lime citrus is also evident).
Despite the clean nose, the first sip, could only be described as kind of rough. Comments on the score sheets I handed out varied from ‘kicks’ to ‘burns’ to the aforementioned ‘rough’ which was my comment. The vodka imparts a good deal of grainy spice onto the palate which fills the mouth in an unpleasant way.
When I was alone in my tasting room and sampled the vodka at room temperature the uncomfortable spice was even more pronounced.
Taking a Shot 15/20
When we all took a full swallow, the experience was much nicer. That roughness associated with the first sip does not follow the spirit down the throat. In fact, there was very little if any burn in the throat when we took a swallow ‘shot style’. The Vodka did however leave a strange sort of aftertaste in my mouth that reminded me of raw cauliflower and broccoli. I wasn’t the only one who noticed it, On Lukasz’ score sheet I noticed he use the term ‘veggie’ to describe the aftertaste. Although this ‘shot style’ drink was not unpleasant, it didn’t really generate any excitement amongst any of my guests.
The fact that the Vodka seemed rough in the mouth when we sipped, but smooth in the throat when we swallowed, indicated to me that this initial roughness has more to do with flavour and spice, than with alcohol burn. Unfortunately this flavour (and spice) did not seem to appeal to anyone in the tasting group.
Out for Dinner 15/20
As part of this particular tasting, we sampled the vodka with various foods. I had made my Pepper Pot soup. My friends, Lukasz and Connie, brought mini tomatoes, cheese, bread and spinach dip. Dennis brought some miniature smokie sausages, and Igor brought some pickles. The experiences around the table when the Citadelle Vodka was paired with food were a real mixed bag. Lukasz thought the Vodka really brought out all of the food flavours in a good way and his comment was ‘pretty darn good’. Dennis thought the food ‘tasted funny’ with the Vodka, and he felt the spiciness of the vodka was deterring his pleasure. I found the Vodka enhanced the spicy foods like the sausages and the soup, however, the Vodka itself seemed to taste even rougher than when I had taken my first sip.
Up to this point in the tasting I really was finding it hard to enjoy myself with the Citadelle Vodka. That all changed when I mixed my first cocktail, the Cosmopolitan. Talk about ‘pop’, the cocktail absolutely rocked, and everybody at the table agreed! All of the aspects of the Vodka which made it a little disagreeable earlier were now making the Vodka absolutely great when mixed into the Cosmo.
Of course I could not wait to try the Citadelle in a few more cocktails on my own in subsequent tasting sessions. I was disappointed when I tried a Vodka Martini and a Vodka and Tonic; but every other cocktail I tried from a Harvey Wallbanger to Electric Lemonade, to the Vodka Darby was simply wonderful (see recipes below). My conclusion is that if you give this vodka expression in mixed drinks, it can become exceptional.
Final Score 79/100
Unexciting when served neat, but exceptional in mixed drinks!
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Vodka Reviews.
The Harvey Wallbanger
1 1/2 oz Vodka
3 oz Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 oz Galliano
Orange Slice for Garnish
Pour the Vodka and the Orange Juice over ice into a tall glass
Float the Galliano on top
Garnish with an Orange slice if desired
1 1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Bols Blue
1 oz fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz rich sugar syrup (2:1)
Lemon Lime Soda
Mix the first four ingredients over ice
Top with lemon lime soda.
Serve in a drinks tumbler with an optional lemon or lime garnish!
Vodka Darby Cocktail
This cocktail usually uses Gin as its base, but if the soda is not overdone, it is also a nice Vodka Cocktail!
1 1/2 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
Pour the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker are frosted
Strain into a suitable glass
Add a splash of Soda
Please remember to enjoy my cocktail suggestions responsibly!
You may (loosely) interpret my score as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing Vodka. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again for cocktails only.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this Vodka in shots, although cocktails are preferable.
85-89 Excellent! Shots or cocktails!
90-94 You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 80 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
81 – 89 Silver Medal (Recommended for shots and mixing cocktails)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly Recommended for Vodka Shots and Sublime Cocktails)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)