The views in this review are our own opinions and have not been influenced by anyone at Osmoz Gin or Château Montifaud.
With a family history spanning back 6 generations in wine and cognac business, Château Montifaud has had an impressive growth over the past 150 years, going from being a vineyard of just 3 hectares right up to 130 hectares in 2019. After years of specialising in cognac, husband and wife duo, Elodie and Laurent Vallet became interested in making their own Gin during a business trip to Germany in 2015. At The Gin Bandits HQ, we‘ve been lucky enough to get our hands on a bottle of their Osmoz Classic and their Citrus gin to review. We also got to catch up with them and ask them some questions about their business.
After years of specialising in Cognac, when did you decide to try your hand at making Gin?
Many customers asked what we were doing with our pot stills and tanks between the two vinification and distillation periods. As we always answered “nothing special”, the customers wanted us to make gin. After several demands, we decided to embark on the adventure! For cognac, we work always the same way like my father and grandfather did. We now have 5 pot stills on our estate. We distil twice as it should be in the cognac appellation. Each pot still is composed of 1 boiler, 1 cap, 1 swan neck, 1 pre-heater, 1 cooler and 1 serpentine. The name is “Alambic charentais”. However, for the gin, we don’t use our pot stills yet. Everything is ready: we have checked with the customs, with the supplier of pot still to create a basket for infusion. But as it needs modifications and investments, we are following the sales, the quantities, and as soon as we find that the quantities are sufficient to distil at home, we will start. So at the moment, we experiment in a neighbour's distillery and we set our specifications. We control each batch and they distil exactly the way we want.
A lot must have changed since 1837, but we can imagine some of the processes are quite the same. Can you tell us about the equipment you use? We saw in 2011 that you renovated the stills which were originally built Pierre back in the late 1800’s.
Our estate in Cognac covers 130ha today of sustainable vineyard (mainly ugni-blanc grape variety), in 2 growths of the cognac region (grande and petite champagne) to produce a real “growers” product. Petite Champagne specialist, we also control all the process of elaboration with our own unique methods which make our products different for the constant improvement of the quality. We make our wine, we distil, we age our cognac, we blend it, we bottle it and we sell it.
Living in the cognac area, we have the knowledge of the distillation and the blending thanks to this long history. So we have our own material to enable us to stay independent at each step of the process from the harvest (with our own team and our own harvesting machine and our own pneumatic presses) to the bottling (2 lines: one with a large part by hand and a second one by bottling machine) from the Distillation (2 pot still of 25hl and 2 pot still of 12hl removed in 2011) and Ageing and blending. The idea of the Vallet Family is to apply their extensive know-how, passion and experience to the new technology, often changing the equipment to use more high tech technology. We have just received our new “egg” tanks to improve and develop our Pineau Quality (Pineau des Charentes is a blend of grape juice and cognac aged in an oak barrel for a long time). This special tank will create special roundness of the Pineau quality. We are therefore impatient to begin our experiments.
The process of making gin is much quicker than you’re probably used to with cognac, but it must have taken some time to decide on the final recipe and the chosen botanicals. Who oversaw this process and how long did it take?
Before starting the recipe, we tasted 25 different brands to understand the world of Gin. At that time, we realised that there were a multitude of very different tastes. We wanted a grape-based gin, with aromas common to our cognacs and which gives back its place to the juniper. So we did several recipes and as the tastes (and personalities!) of my wife and I are different, 2 recipes emerged. As we were unable to decide between Elodie and Laurent's recipes, we decided to create two gins. The classic version which focused on juniper taste (Classic character like Laurent who designed this recipe) and a citrus version with a little more character with its 46% enabling us to offer a version for the more mature gin market, who are looking for a different style of gin than the classic one. The Citrus Version is the perfect reflection of Elodie who designed this creation. Both gins are different but very complementary like Elodie and Laurent who work in a perfect osmosis.
We love the bottle and branding you have come up with for both the Osmoz Classic and Osmoz Citrus Gin. Who was in charge of naming of the brand and overall product design?
We wanted to find a link, in perfect osmosis, between the cognac we produce and our gin. We did not want to produce a gin just to produce a gin, we wanted produce a gin created by Cognac makers with a soul and a story. Elodie created the name and designed the bottle and Laurent was responsible for what is inside, in perfect osmosis. So, the name OSMOZ became obvious.
Barrel Aged gin is becoming more and more popular in the gin industry. Is this something we can expect from you in the future or are there any plans to expand your current gin range? An Osmoz Barrel Aged Gin sounds good to us.
No official information about it but sure that could be an idea…......
Is the distillery open to the public for tours? If we’re ever in France, we would love to come by and take a look around?
Sure! We really love sharing our passion around the grapes and explaining how we work. Please look at our leaflet below for further information.
Can you tell us your suggested serves for both the Osmoz Classic and Osmoz Citrus Gin?
Osmoz Classic = This gin @43%vol can be enjoyed on the rocks or diluted OR COCKTAILS
Osmoz Gin Tonic
6 cl gin Osmoz Classic
15 cl of tonic
1 lime wedge
5 Juniper berries
Osmoz Citrus = A Gin at 46 % perfect for cocktails!
Osmoz Gin Basil Cucumber
3 cl gin Osmoz Citrus
3 slices of cucumber
3 leaves of basil
1 spoon of sugar syrup
1 spoon of green lime
Hint of tonic
And as always, where can our followers buy a bottle of Osmoz gin in the UK?
OSMOZ Classic Gin
We paired the Osmoz Classic gin with Schweppes 1783 and garnished with a twist of lime and some juniper berries . The Classic gin is a juniper forward gin with citrus, yet sweet notes. This one is Mr Bandits favourite out of the two.
OSMOZ Citrus Gin
Again, like to Classic we paired the Osmoz Citrus as a Gin and Tonic using Schweppes 1783 and garnished with some fresh basil. This version is a lot more citrus than the classic, but still a juniper forward gin. We can see how this version is recommended as using in cocktails. But again like the classic, we think it works great as a G&T.
If you want to find out more about Osmoz Gin or Château Montifaud you can check out their details below
Website - www.osmoz-gin.com
Instagram - www.instagram.com/osmozgin
Facebook - www.facebook.com/osmozgin
Website - www.chateaumontifaud.com
Twitter - twitter.com/CognacMontifaud
Instagram - www.instagram.com/chateaumontifaud