Maison Ferrand proprietor and master distiller, Alexandre Gabriel has received the prestigious “Outstanding Contribution to Distilling” Award from the Craft Distilling Expo on October 4 in London. The award is given for outstanding achievement in distilling and recognizes the amazing contribution that Alexandre Gabriel has made to the distilling community.
What makes the award so unique is that this is the first time in the history of the award that it has been presented to an individual. In the past, recipients have all been distilleries.
President of the American Distilling Institute, the company that produces the Craft Distilling Expo, says: “Alexandre is a renaissance man with roots in Cognac, Gin and now Rum. His businesses have provided quality, award-winning products that have changed how we all look at the consumer, bar and restaurant trade.”
David T. Smith, Conference Director and Independent Spirits Consultant, says: “Alexandre innovates for the future, but is inspired by the past and has facilitated the revival of historic, long-lost spirits such as pineapple Rum and aged Gin; his attention to detail and dedication to crafting high-quality spirits is unrivaled.”
Alexandre’s history in distilling is complex and stretches back many years. At the moment, Maison Ferrand produces spirits as Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Citadelle Gin, Plantation Rum and more but in 1989, long before anyone had come up with the term “craft distilling” or “craft spirits,” Alexandre thought of a spirit with the great sense of Terroir. This is how Ferrand was re-invented, producing and selling Cognac Premier Cru.
Alexandre became closely involved Cognac Ferrand when bottle sales had declined to a worrying level. Only in his 20s at the time but with an uncanny patience and passion, he built the company into what it is today. He continues to work tirelessly on reviving the Ferrand heritage and reinventing the aging of Cognac using barrels of yesteryears like Sauternes and Banyuls, as well as the now forbidden chestnut barrel aging. He is creating a book on the history of Grande Champagne Cognac district, has recently bought the historical estate Chateau Ferrand, which was established in 1650.
Alexandre’s passion for spirits expanded into Gin and in 1996. It was in that year that he made Citadelle Gin which created the Artisanal Gin renaissance. He holds a patent for Gin making (for the progressive infusion of botanicals used to make Citadelle), one of the first patents in Gin production. His barrel aged Citadelle Reserve was the first modern aged Gin and he has conducted extensive work on Gin aging using different wood types such as Acacia and Wild Cherry woods.
Alexandre’s expansion into Rum came shortly after his introduction of Citadelle Gin. In 2000, Alexandre launched Plantation Rums, a range of Rums from different Rum-producing countries that connect Rum back to its terroir. With the French approach, in 2012 Alexandre was awarded Best Rum Master Blender at the Rum Barrel Awards. Earlier this year, Alexandre realized his dream of owning a Rum distillery with the purchase of the West Indies Rum Distillery as well as becoming a part holder of National Rum of Jamaica, owner of the prestigious and historic Clarendon and Long Pond distilleries.
“It is an honor to receive this one of a kind trophy from the American Distilling Institute,” says Alexandre Gabriel. “It means a lot to me because the ADI is moved by the passion of many distillers sharing one dream, the one I’ve had for close to 30 years when the word ‘craft spirit’ did not exist – the dream of creating spirits to make a difference, the dream of distilling spirits that are unique and memorable. It is humbling for me to know that this is the first time that this trophy is ever handed to an individual. My wish is that many talented distillers will be able to receive it in the many years to come.”
The Craft Distilling Expo is the leading trade fair and conference dedicated to Craft Distilling. It celebrated its fifth anniversary this year and features more than 30 exhibitors at The Boiler House in the Old Truman Brewery from Wednesday 4 October to Thursday 5 October.