From an artisanal distiller with an assortment that’s significantly more than the sum of its parts, the Four Pillars Gin range isn’t just a smashing suite of spirits – it’s a complete cocktail compendium for enthusiasts and the casual gin drinkers alike.
Founded in 2013 by Cameron Mackenzie and his two gin-loving mates, Matt and Stu, Four Pillars humble beginnings have seen them go from idea to craft institution seemingly overnight. It all started through the Pozible crowdfunding website, where their foray into the industry was a new-world way to bankroll some new-wave gin; and with an inaugural batch of 400 bottles selling out within four days, it was exactly what Australia wanted.
Nowadays, with a swag of Gold Medals from the World Spirit Awards under their belt, reflecting on the Four Pillars origin story is a little less significant than what Cam & Co went through in pinpointing the Four Pillars purpose. It was a realisation that exceptional gin doesn’t just make itself – that to make a splash, the Four Pillars team would need to not only double down on the art of distilling, but compile a refined selection exemplifying local ingredients, fresh flavours and peerless versatility. Forget just another hotchpotch of been-there-drank-that London Dries; these guys were after nothing less than the purest (and tastiest) embodiment of Australia’s modern gin scene.
Thus were crafted the three gin flagships of the Four Pillars fleet: The Rare Dry, The Navy Strength and The Barrel-Aged.
It’s a spirited threesome representing masterful distilling with a healthy dose of home hospitality. But just how did Four Pillars decide which three gins were to make the crucial cut?
For founder, Cameron Mackenzie, the crux of the answer lies beyond simply setting out to craft killer gins and picking the favourites. “The big difference from wine or beer is that they’re finished products. We, by and large, make an ingredient”.
An approach that’s simple, yet packed with crafty insight: think ahead to the eventual cocktail destination and craft the ingredient accordingly. With the classic concoctions of Negroni, Gin & Tonic and the Straight (with a tastebud-tingling touch of honey) making up the liquid legs of Four Pillars trio.
FOUR PILLAR’S RARE DRY GIN: THE NEGRONI
The Rare Dry Gin is the perfect gin for a perfect Negroni. Steam-distilled with Australia’s finest whole-cut oranges, a fruity kick complements the infused spiciness of cardamom and star anise, making it a smashingly good companion for Vermouth and Campari.
And don’t forget to keep the zesty citrus celebrations kicking with the signature Negroni flourish: a garnish of orange peel. Hooray for delicious Vitamin C.
FOUR PILLAR’S NAVY STRENGTH GIN: THE G&T
Mix 45mL Navy Strength Gin
60mL Fever-Tree Indian Tonic
Garnish with freshly shaved ginger or a kaffir lime leaf
Awarded “Master” status at the 2015 Global Gin Masters, we’re willing to bet this gin goes superbly with almost anything, but being the perfect gin for standing up in a drink, a classic G&T with some quality tonic is where it’s most at home.
Cam was immediately drawn to Australian Judy’s Everbearing finger limes, which provide a citrus smack that possesses “power without muscle”, as he puts it. Coming to possess a more Asian flavour, turmeric was the final puzzle piece used, imbuing the gin with extra Eastern warmth.
“I love it as a G&T”, Cam says, “it’s a beautiful, fresh drink on a hot day”.
FOUR PILLAR’S BARREL-AGED GIN: STRAIGHT (WITH A TOUCH OF TASMANIAN HONEY HEAVEN)
30mL Barrel-Aged Gin in a glass
Add a drop of Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey over ice
Certainly no slouch when it comes to bringing a delicious cocktail to life, the Barrel-Aged gin is the most competent of the three when it comes to striking out on its own. Thanks to a six-month sleepover in winemaker Yabby Creek’s French Oak Chardonnay barrels, this gin’s flavour is one that truly evolves in the glass.
“The barrels give it a secondary richness and flavour profile – an Oaky Sweetness”.
It’s when you add a drop or two of Tasmania’s legendary Leatherwood Honey that your straight becomes straight-up amazing. Highly aromatic, it’s the connoisseur’s choice for a smidge of sweetness that pairs amazingly with the complexity of the Barrel-Aged.
Plonk in an ice cube and you’ve got Cam’s “evening in front of the telly” drink of choice.
And there you have it: the ultimate gin chart to navigate some seriously great cocktails… Or do you? Because if there’s one thing Four Pillars don’t specialise in, it’s resting on their liquid laurels – no matter how good. With singular creations like the Bloody Shiraz Gin and the spicy Spanish-tinged Cousin Vera’s Gin mixing things up, you’d never put it past Four Pillars to set the scene all over again, and we simply can’t wait until they do.