First launched in Australia late 2013 by Stuart Gregor, Cameron Mackenzie and Matt Jones, Yarra Valley-based Four Pillars – less than an hour from Melbourne’s city centre – first started as a four-week crowdfunding campaign on Pozible that allowed supporters to get their hands on the very first batch of Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin. The funding campaign saw its AUD$10,000 target surpassed within four days, and culminating in 228 supporters pledging just over AUD$30,000 snapping up all 420 bottles of Batch NO_1.
The Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin uses 10 botanicals in total, including juniper berries, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon, lavender, angelica, and star anise, but differs from other gins with the use of native Australian lemon myrtle and Tasmanian pepper berry leaf, as well as the inclusion of fresh oranges as opposed to the usual dried citrus peel.
Four Pillars is batch distilled by Mackenzie, who is a 15-year veteran in wine production. “We’ve been experimenting with botanicals for the best part of 18 months and we have settled on 10 of them – a pretty equal mix of local and exotic,” he explained. “Perhaps most interesting is our use of whole oranges. It is quite unusual to use fresh stuff in gin but Australian citrus is highly aromatic and supports the spicier botanicals like coriander, cardamom and star anise.” He adds that the local botanicals help create a difference, with the Tasmanian pepper providing a warmth to the palate rather than burning heat, while lemon myrtle gives a beautiful, complex and unique alternative to the more common lemon peel.
“Ultimately it was about trying to deliver the best of both worlds – a perfect, classic gin and something that would fascinate and delight even the most hardened gin fanatic… something spicy with great citrus at the back,” he added. When we tasted the Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin, once you get past the initial blast of alcohol the subtle perfume of juniper is discernable, along with strong accents of citrus and warm spice.
Botanicals in Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin: Juniper berries, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon, lavender, angelica, star anise, lemon myrtle, Tasmanian pepper berry leaf, and fresh oranges
Four Pillars deploys a German-engineered CARL copper/stainless steel hybrid column still with a capacity of 450 litres. Each batch produces around 150 litres of 187 proof gin (which is dialed back to 41.8% for the Rare Dry Gin), making it a total of less than 450 bottles in a batch.
Four Pillars also makes a barrel-aged gin using the Solera process, and Mackenzie revealed that he is looking to create a gin made with wholly Australian ingredients sometime in the near future. However, Equatorial Wines director Mike Beck has confirmed that their focus for the Singapore market will be the core Rare Dry Gin product for now.
Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin
Maker: Four Pillars
Spirit: Gin, distilled with 10 botanicals