Last year, having been with Fine Wine Delivery for only two months, I was offered the chance to visit the distillery and home of Four Pillars Gin in the Yarra Valley Melbourne…oh if I must!
On arrival at Four Pillars in the sleepy country town of Headsville about an hours drive out of Melbourne, we were met by the amazing team including Co Founder Cameron McKenzie.
In spite of the shed's vastness (check out those high ceilings), they have managed to create a welcoming bar space with a fantastic experience behind it. You are made to feel welcome and comfortable like a long lost mate, and the drinks that they produce are made from only the very best quality ingredients & taste amazing! My esteemed colleague ( our Spirits Ambassador ), said his Gin Martini was the best he'd ever had…and he's had them at some of the world's most famous bars!
Cam talked us through the process of producing the gin, including how they selected the botanicals. The surprise ingredient for many is the use of fresh oranges, as opposed to dry. The result is a smooth drinking gin with hints of citrus, lavender and spice. We all got to help with the process as this was going to be “our Gin”.
The Gin I made and got sent once it had finished the process….sadly it's all gone now!
Copper is very important in distillation, even home distillers pack with copper wire. Copper reacts with the spirit as it passes through and removes sulphites. Cam personally didn't think you get as clean a spirit from a stainless steel still as you do copper. He thinks you always need a copper surface to condense onto. Each one of the copper stills were named after the founders Mothers, and an absolute art piece unto themselves.
The smells in the distillery were amazing! Aromatically, botanicals can change with age. Cam said in their first year he probably rejected as much as he accepted.
I'd not seen or heard of some of the botanicals that they use at Four Pillars, such as Lemon Myrtle, Strawberry Gum, Finger limes & Tasmanian pepperberry, naturally from Australia, which makes them so unique.
About the Team at Four Pillars.
As Cam described it, they've always been gin drinkers. “I also think of gin as a wine-makers spirit. Vodka didn't interest me at all – from a wine-maker and consumer perspective the lack of aromatics, flavour and texture, although technically it's very clever to pull off a spirit that tastes of nothing!
Gin, however, has all the same things we look for in wine with the exception of sugar and acid. We're looking for balance, texture, weight, flavour. That resonated with us and it wasn't a hard step to go from wine to gin.
The partners in Four Pillars Gin and I started taking about a project outside of the wine industry. Stu and I have been great mates for many years, having started out together in wine. I was in production before moving into communications, sales and marketing. Although, I've always liked to get my hands dirty whenever I worked at wineries.
Working with Stu and Matt is amazing, we communicate really well and we're good mates. We have three distinct parts to the team. Stu is a born connector, while Matt has the most amazing strategic mind. It's been bloody hard work so far, but really worth it to see the position we are in now in the market and still growing.”
As well as learning and experiencing all facets of Four Pillars, we were taken to a few local vineyards to sample their wines. Zonzo & Giant Steps also had the most amazing meals.
Headsville, where Four Pillars is located, has a rich colorful history. It's somewhat of an oxymoron, where an old world Australian country town has these pockets of new exciting bespoke style Restaurant's & bars popping up…sleepy, but with a lot going on
We visited Four Pillars twice a day not only to sample some of the lovely drinks made with Gin on offer, but also the amazing breakfast with toast & Marmalade (made from the left over botanical oranges & lemons) and the famous Red Snapper drinks…particularly good after a big night!
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and the knowledge I learnt from it has been a great asset to me and the company, as I'm now able to use thisto sell more Gin in store. I tell everyone I speak to about Four Pillars…if you are ever in Melbourne…take the time to go out to the Yarra and visit them, you won't regret it!
Thanks Four Pillars & Fine Wine Delivery….a memory stored away forever!
Cin Cin to Gin!