The Man Behind Cîroc Vodka
Discover the story behind Cîroc Vodka, one of the world's most sophisticated vodkas, and pick up signature serve ideas for your guests with this smooth spirit uniquely distilled from fine French grapes.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Meet Master Distiller Jean-Sebastien Robicquet
At the heart of Cîroc Vodka lies Master Distiller Jean-Sebastien Robicquet and his distillery Maison Villevert, which has been in his family for over 500 years. We spoke with Jean-Sebastien to learn more about this distinctive, grape-inspired vodka.
HOW DID YOU BECOME CÎROC'S MASTER DISTILLER?
I trained as a lawyer and a winemaker in Bordeaux and spent many years working for top spirits businesses. This experience helped me understand the qualities of a great spirit and led me to work with distillers from armagnac and cognac backgrounds to create Cîroc.
WHAT DOES THE ROLE OF MASTER DISTILLER INVOLVE?
My role is to lead the team of distillers, blenders and drinks developers to ensure we buy the best quality product and produce the best quality vodka.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE HISTORY OF CÎROC?
Cîroc was created with Diageo to introduce a dramatically different vodka into the USA. As the only grape-based vodka, we made an instant impact and are now one of the world's top luxury spirits brands.
WHAT IS CÎROC’S PRODUCTION PROCESS?
Cîroc is five times distilled using specially selected French grapes. These grapes are made into a wine which is initially distilled four times in column stills.
It’s the fifth distillation where Cîroc is truly created. This takes place in a traditional, tailor-made copper pot still at the historic Distillerie de Chevanceaux in the South of France.
WHAT MAKES CÎROC DIFFERENT TO OTHER VODKAS?
There are three main differences. Firstly, we start with grapes, not grain. Secondly, we use craft skills handed down from the great distilling regions of Cognac and Armagnac. And finally, we use specially developed stills that slowly drip our liquids through copper to reveal a soft, smooth texture and a slightly citrus note.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND A SIGNATURE SERVE?
It depends on where you are and what mood you are in. When it's hot, I like it with lemonade. Before dinner, I enjoy it as an aperitif straight over ice. After dinner, Amaretto Cîroc is perfect with coffee. Here are three simple serves to showcase:
HOW DO YOU SUGGEST RECOMMENDING CÎROC TO CUSTOMERS?
Ask the customer if they like soft fruit and grapes; if the answer is yes, then Cîroc is for them.
WHAT VODKA TRENDS ARE YOU NOTICING?
There are a lot of good vodkas available, though some vodkas rely on gimmicks rather than what truly delivers in the glass. I respect carefully crafted vodkas from great base materials that take time, skill and well-chosen ingredients.
WHY DO YOU THINK VODKA IS SO POPULAR?
Good vodka sits at the heart of a good time because it satisfies many needs in many drinks.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO DRINK CÎROC?
I like my Cîroc straight, over ice with a twist of lemon.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR VODKA, INCLUDING CÎROC?
I have been pleased to see the positive reception for our range of flavours, including Apple, Mango, Coconut and French Vanilla, and we will continue to explore flavours. I think bars will look to have the best breed of different core base vodkas, the best rye, corn and grape vodka, and the battle will be between brands to take those slots.
- Grape-Based Vodka: Cîroc stands out in the vodka world by using grapes as its base instead of traditional grains. It offers a soft, smooth texture with subtle citrus notes.
- Master Distiller Jean-Sebastien Robicquet: Cîroc’s Master Distiller, Jean-Sebastien Robicquet's winemaking experience is crucial in ensuring the vodka's exceptional quality.
- Production Process: Cîroc undergoes a meticulous distillation process, from selecting fine French grapes to four column still distillations and a final distillation in a tailor-made copper pot still.
- Unique Characteristics: Cîroc's differences from other vodkas lie in its grape base and craftsmanship influenced by cognac and armagnac traditions.
- Signature Serves: Cîroc Vodka offers bartenders a range of flavours to explore. The vodka's round, juicy grape flavour is a standout feature.
Cîroc Vodka is not just a spirit; it's a labour of love, innovation, and craftsmanship guided by Master Distiller Jean-Sebastien Robicquet. The use of fine French grapes and the soft, smooth texture and subtle citrus notes of Cîroc set it apart from other vodkas, making it a versatile choice for crafting exquisite cocktails.