Four Pillars Distillery
2A Lilydale Rd, Healesville
03 5962 2791
Four Pillars Distillery has single-handedly revolutionised the Australian spirits market. Its gin came crashing into the Australian market at the end of 2013, upsetting international players with its award-winning spirits.
Cameron Mackenzie and Stuart Gregor are both wine industry veterans who were contemplating creating their own tonic when they decided they were more interested in creating the soft drink’s better half – gin. As the pair researched their new passion project, they discovered that 90% of gin consumed in Australia was imported. To help change the public’s perception they enlisted the help of brand strategist Matt Jones, the third and final member of the Four Pillars trio.
Cameron is the distiller, operations guru, educator and locavore behind Four Pillars. The Healesville native is a former Olympian, but once he started working with Stuart in the wine trade his running career went downhill. Now, instead of the Olympics, Cameron, Stuart and Ma are winning gold medals at spirit competitions all over the world.
Four Pillars was named after the four simple principles behind creating great gin: a great still, great botanicals, great water and finally great love, attention and craft. There’s also a more colourful explanation for the name but the boys remain tight-lipped on the definition – at least until after they’ve had a few Negronis.
The distillery makes its own distinctive gin in a modern Australian style. There are currently four core gins in the range: Rare Dry, Navy Strength, Barrel Aged and Bloody Shiraz. Depending on when you visit the distillery you may also find a number of collaborations or experimental gins.
Aside from the care and attention the team put into each batch, it is the selection of botanicals that sets Four Pillars apart. The team uses traditional juniper, cardamom, star anise and coriander seeds but also native Australian ingredients including Tasmanian pepperberry and lemon myrtle. They also use whole oranges, as the citrus creates a highly aromatic flavour that supports the spicier botanicals.
After each batch of gin is made they are left with 3kg of oranges, which they turn into an Orange Marmalade that’s full of botanical flavours without the alcohol. Adding a dash of Campari to this mix resulted in a second preserve, the Breakfast Negroni.
We suggest any gin fanatics book a masterclass with Cameron to learn all about the distilling process. Budding mixologists should also visit on Friday afternoons, when bartender Sam Ng hosts cocktail classes.
The distillery is housed in an old timber yard in Healesville. The 700-square-metre space is now home to three German stills that the team have named after their mothers: Wilma, Jude and Eileen. At the distillery door you can enjoy tastings of all the gins, tasting paddles of gin and tonics, build-your-own Negronis and cocktails.
As you sit on the picnic tables outside you can enjoy a selection of nuts, olives and gin cured pickles, or enjoy Four Pillars’ famous marmalade on local sourdough.
Four Pillars gin might have made a splash when it launched, but the distillery has now settled into its rightful place as one of the best gins in the world.