Four Pillars Gin
Who is behind Four Pillars Gin and how did you come to working together?
Matt Jones, Stuart Gregor and Cameron Mackenzie are the three co-founders of Four Pillars Gin. The three of us were always gin drinkers and drawn to all things craft. Stuart and Cameron have backgrounds in the wine industry (production through to sales and PR), and Matt comes from the worlds of brand and strategy. Four Pillars was born out of a love for gin, a love of hand-made drinks and a sense that we should be able to do something fun, different and unique in Australia with spirits.
How many years of research and development did it take to perfect Four Pillars first Rare Dry Gin?
It was more than two years in the making. After spending time in the US talking to distillers (their craft distilling scene is fantastic and the distillers were amazingly giving of their time), we were convinced that we needed a still from CARL in Germany (and that took 18 months to deliver). Meanwhile we started playing with a small glass still, just to see how the various botanicals interacted. After doing lots of reading, lots of tasting and lots of planning, we arrived at the final combination and balance of botanicals to produce Batch No.1 at the end of 2013. It's been exhausting but fantastic fun long the way, and we have been thrilled with the result.
For those who don’t know, explain the Four Pillars?
At Four Pillars, we want to elevate the craft of distilling, so everything we make is crafted on our four pillars. The first is our magnificent copper pot still, made by CARL in Germany. She’s called Wilma. The second is our water, the best in the world, from our home in the Yarra Valley. Our third pillars is our botanicals, some of which are native to Australia and others which are sourced from around the globe. And our final pillar is love; we base everything we do this - a commitment to craft and attention to detail every step of the way.
Custom design and collaboration seems to be very important to Four Pillars Gin (from your copper pot still to your very own custom bottle). Tell us briefly a bit about your favourite collaboration/commission process?
Well, the partnership with CARL distilleries is part of the story of Four Pillars now. Klaus (yes, that’s his real name) came out from Stuttgart to ‘commission’ Wilma our still, and he was so blown away by the flavour of our local oranges that he suggested to use the whole orange in the distillation, rather than just the peel. This is now our signature botanical, and we reuse the oranges (after they’ve steamed in gin for 7 hours) in another collaboration: we’ve created some orange marmalades with local Yarra conservers Cunliffe & Waters.
And then we’re really looking forward to collaborating with Courtesy of the Artist. The inspiration for everything we do with Four Pillars is striving to represent a Modern Australian design aesthetic, something that could only come out of this time and place, but yet with a sense of timelessness. That is Courtesy of the Artist to a tee - showcasing local contemporary designers who are really at the forefront of modern aesthetic at Sydney’s historic Strand Arcade. It really resonates with what we’re doing with our new distillery in Healesville which is set to open in the next few months; creating a hub for conversations about craftsmanship and pushing the boundaries of design and creation.
You use a mix of local and exotic botanicals in the distilling process. Tell us a bit about your native botanicals and how important is it to Four Pillars to be using Australian ingredients?
Our aim from the very beginning of this was to make a gin that represented our idea of Modern Australia, and a what fans of Australian craft and drinkers of Australian spirits share is a love of things that are locally sourced. These craft industries are really gathering momentum and there’s a great interest in the stories behind those smaller batch, hand-made products and where they’re from.
Our distillery is lucky to be based in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and what we consider to be the capital of Modern Australia, the Yarra Valley. So, we wouldn’t be producing a truly modern Australian gin if we didn’t embrace the incredible capabilities of Australian produce. At the same time, modern Australia is an amazing blend of cultures and it draws inspiration from all parts of the world, which is why we source spices from South East Asia through to the Middle East, with classic botanicals like juniper from Europe.
You share our passion for celebrating all things Australian and telling Australian stories. Tell us about an Australian creative or craftsperson that inspires you all.
We love Griffin Theatre. They’re based in Kings Cross but they are the only theatre company in the country dedicated to telling new Australian stories. Griffin may be small but they are the best at what they do – bringing to life theatre and the craft of storytelling in a uniquely Australian way. Griffin is all about discovering new talent, and giving audiences the most intimate, intense and exciting theatre experiences in the country.
Describe Four Pillar’s Gin in three (or four!) words.
(Delicious) Modern Australian gin.
Images courtesy of Four Pillars Gin and Anson Smart.