The French gin scene has been experiencing a remarkable boom in recent years, defying the traditional perception of France as a country known primarily for its wine consumption.
With a rich history of spirit production and an abundance of juniper growing in its picturesque landscapes, France has emerged as a formidable competitor in the world of gin, gaining recognition and appreciation among gin enthusiasts.
The magic lies in the availability of stunning wild botanicals that can be foraged to create unique flavor profiles. Distilleries in France are taking advantage of the diverse natural resources the country has to offer, incorporating local botanicals that are carefully handpicked from the countryside, forests, and mountains to infuse their gins with distinctive and complex flavors.
Moreover, French distilleries are putting forth a level of craftsmanship and innovation that sets them apart. Drawing on their heritage of spirit production, French distillers are employing traditional methods combined with modern techniques to create gins that are steeped in history yet infused with contemporary flair.
If you’re looking to explore the world of French gin, here are some of the best options to try:
Hexagone Gin was launched in 2021 and distilled using a traditional copper pot still in the picturesque Languedoc-Rousillon region of southern France. It was founded by Damien Gagnieres, who chose the name ‘Hexagone’ to pay homage to the iconic shape of France when viewed from above. Just like the six sides of a hexagon, each botanical in Hexagone Gin is handpicked to perfection, enhancing the distinct flavor of juniper in a harmonious symphony of taste.
“I really wanted the top quality, sustainable ingredients for the creation of this gin,” said Gagnieres in an interview with theginguide.com. “We make the gin with the same principles as for a wine, i.e. by blending. All the ingredients are distilled separately then assembled like a wine in order to find the perfect balance and structure.” At its heart, it boasts the timeless allure of classic gin, with vibrant notes of citrus, warm spices, with a unique twist that draws inspiration from the flavors of Asia with hints of Kaffir lime leaf, cardamom, pepper, and jasmine. The result? A gin of mesmerizing depth. hexagone-gin.com
Citadelle Gin sports a savory and luscious bouquet that is truly unparalleled. Here, juniper grown on-site shares the stage with the other 18 botanicals to take the stage, while still maintaining a presence. Cardamom, licorice, cubeb, cassia all play a part, as does nutmeg, citrus peels and hints of star anise. What sets this gin apart is its unparalleled production process, utilizing a copper pot heated by a naked flame in Château de Bonbonnet at the Southwest France. The result is a gin that is lovingly crafted with meticulous attention to detail, yielding a full-flavored yet subtle taste sensation. citadellegin.com
Terre de glace by Distillerie Monceau Dombrecht
Crafted with care in the small-scale Monceau Dombrecht micro-distillery, the French gin “Terre de Glace” is a truly indulgent spirit that showcases the vibrant flavors of green cardamom and juniper berry. Its tasting experience is a sensory journey that begins with a burst of fresh and delicate notes on the palate, and then gradually unfolds into a symphony of herbaceous and peppery flavors that linger on the tongue. The production process is a labor of love, with each of the eight botanical macerations slowly distilled to create a distillate that is truly unique and intense.
This precious elixir is then delicately reduced with pure spring water over the course of several months, ensuring its exceptional quality. The bottling process is done with meticulous attention to detail, without filtration, and each bottle is carefully hand-labeled and numbered, adding a touch of exclusivity to every sip. The profile of “Terre de Glace” is defined by its invigorating freshness and subtle delicacy, with the interplay of herbaceous and peppery notes that lend it an unmistakable personality. www.distillerie-md.fr
Bel Air Gin
Embark on a sensory expedition to Reunion Island with the Bel Air Gin, a true masterpiece composed of rare and exotic fruits and spices harvested from its volcanic terroir. This gin of distinction captivates with its unique and opulent profile, showcasing the harmonious interplay of Victoria pineapple and cinnamon, elegantly supported by juniper, while elusive notes of green mango and passion fruit add a layer of intrigue.
Delicate hints of vetiver, wild pepper, and wild orchid weave a tapestry of complexity on the palate, evoking a tropical symphony of flavors. The finish is a lingering symphony of fragrances, a testament to the gin’s unparalleled craftsmanship. With its sun-kissed allure and robust 43% ABV, the Bel Air Gin promises an exotic escape that will leave a lasting impression on your senses. www.distilleriedeparis.com
Top photo by Tim Durand