Review: Four Pillars Gin

Four Pillars

The new Gin represents very well the new era of a confident and polished Australian Gin style  that draws on local inspiration and ingredients, benchmarked against the super premium labels and the blossoming boutique distilling movement internationally.

I was one the very fortunate 400 or so people to buy the first bottles of this brand new Australian Gin, and it turned up on my doorstep this week.

It was my first ever foray also into Pozible, as the producers have professionally marketed the Gin using social media, with great images and story telling (see their facebook page) along the way,  In fact it was one of the best campaigns for a spirit I’ve seen.

When the time came you could be one of the first to purchase a numbered bottle via crowd funding. Nice.

So my bottle is #101, and it’s my precious. I was also fortunate to be given a bottle recently #215, so its double happiness at my place.

i understand they plan be releasing subsequent limited edition batches, including other Gin styles.

Background Interview: Cameron MacKenzie

Four Pillars Gin team

Stu Gregor, Cameron MacKenzie, Matt Jones L>R

 When was the Distillery Established?

The distillery was commisioned in August this year.  It was made in Germany by CARL – who are, in my opinion, the best still manufactures in the world.  CARL make around 30 stills each year and ours took nearly a year have made and shipped.

We have a 450lt Copper pot still with a Swan’s Neck, Botanical Basket and a 7-plate column.  Her name is Wilma-named after my late mother.  Not only a great tribute but it seemed fitting given she raised five sons and could explode if we didn’t do as we were told!

Did you wake up one day and say, ‘I’m going to make some Gin?’ What’s
your inspiration?

My background is in the wine industry – Stu Gregor and I have been colleagues and mates for many years.  I started as a cellarhand at Yarra Ridge before doing vintages at St Huberts, Punt Road and Sutton Grange.   moved into sales & marketing and spent the last few years running the commercial side of Sticks, Punt Road and Innocent Bystander/Giant Steps.

Stu and I have always been massive gin fans.  About three years ago we had a G & T at a bar and we were astonished to see the drink topped up with tonic from a post-mix gun.

We started to think about producing tonic waters, this rapidly shifted to gin.  I spent the next 12 month researching everything I could find.  I travelled to the US and spent time visiting the most amazing craft distilleries.

The ones I admired the most had CARL stills and, to be honest, I just loved the look of them.  I was fascinated by the different styles being made – 209 was heavy in cardamon, Aviation Gin had amazing Lavender, St. George had three different gins which were all good, Dry Fly used hops-it was just amazing.  It made me realise that we
could make a really unique product.

Our brief was “Modern Australian Gin” because we felt there were so many great London Drys.  This had me looking at Australian botanicals but also at food and culture in general.

What is modern Australia?  It’s an amazing blend of cultures and it draws inspiration from all parts of the world.

What’s the process to produce the base spirit?

Over time we narrowed our botanicals to the include the spices of SE Asia through to the Middle East, as well as some beautiful European influence with the Juniper.  It came together quite nicely.  Our final touch was the use of fresh oranges in the botanical basket.

I’d been communicating with a brilliant distiller in Germany called Dr Klaus Hagmann – he recently spent a week at the distillery.  Klaus convinced me to try fresh organic oranges – this gave the most amazing Mediterranean twist to the spices.  

Lemon myrtle and Tassie pepper were the two Australian botanicals that worked incredibly well with these spices.

As far as the base goes, we use an Australian grain spirit – we do not produce this.  It’s part of the longer term plan but initially a 20 plate column was out of reach.  Ideally I’d like to produce a neutral spirit to 96% and we would need a very big column to do this.

The grain spirit we source is incredibly clean – I didn’t like grape spirit as it was very course.

There’s seems to be an explosion of quality spirits emerging in Australia (like your excellent Gin) – what do you think driving’s that?

Craft distilling is really starting to gain momentum.  I think everyone is interested in the story behind smaller batch, hand-made products – food, wine, beer, coffee, etc.  Spirits are a natural progression (that said, the barriers to market are frightening!).

There seems to be a genuine interest in how products are made and where they are from.  We’d like everyone to visit there still and see how much time and effort goes into the process. Matt Jones joined Stu and I about 2 years ago – he is a brand strategy guy with a passion for gin, cocktails and bars.  He also understood that we need to cultivate a community for this gin.

It’s been an exhausting three year project and I and really pleased we are finally at this point. It’s the most content I have been since my first vintage at Yarra Ridge!

The gin is quite unique, which is exactly what we wanted!

Four Pillars Gin MartiniReview

Chilled Neat

  • Before you get all fancy, I like to taste my gin au natural . I found the taste to be very forward spices with a peppery, fiery taste, quite rich on the palette, bone dry finish.
  • I found it too potent to drink by itself, but hardier souls than me might like it on ice with an orange peel… nice sipping style, with a curry perhaps!
  • But the overall effect is of a polished product with an excellent base spirit with a confident style.

Martini

  • After the neat tasting I wasn’t sure if this was going to fly as Martini, for example, Bulldog Gin is an example of a spirit that doesn’t below in a cocktail glass.
  • So I took the approach I use when using regular Beefeater, 15ml of Noilly Prat Vermouth to about 45 ml of Gin, stirred and let it rest a moment to infuse well on ice, pour over olive.
  • This worked well, you need to soften the Gin a little (not to mention super chilled), and you get an instant hit of spicy citrus, with all the complex botanical notes forward on the palette and a bone dry finish with some lingering flavour.
  • If you like a full flavoured Martini (as opposed to the light and feminine style like Martin Millers), then you’ll love this. If you opt for Bombay Sapphire, then you should be able to dig this Gin. Its not Tanqueray, this Gin demands you pay attention to it!

The Take Home

  • This Gin has a likeable personality that works best in company of other spirits. In the mixing guide that came with the bottle they provide recipes for a Negroni (for which it would provide a killer base), and a G+T with a grapefruit garnish. The Martini recipe also suggests an orange or lemon twist. which makes perfect sense to me.
  • Like spicy full flavours in your Gin? Then you’ll love this.
  • Rating 4 / 5 Stars

Details

How to Buy

Four Pillars logoBesides the Pozible Project releases, they advise that:

“In December 2013 Four Pillars Gin will be available in Australia’s best bars and specialist retailers, but we wanted our friends and supporters to get their hands on some before the rest of the country (and the rest of the world).

Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin will retail at around $70 once in stores, and each batch will comprise just 420 bottles.”

Details of stockists will be published on their website very soon, they are also proactive on their social media- see below.

7 thoughts on “Review: Four Pillars Gin

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