Since 2013 Stage and Screen has enjoyed watching Four Pillars make their mark in the gin world. Staying in touch with the gin scene and the broader market involves regular travel for the team, especially between Sydney and Melbourne as they attend meetings, host masterclasses and events, and spread the Four Pillars story across the country.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 months, you’re probably aware that gin is the new spirit of choice. So if you have ever fantasised about the romance of Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart and classy gin joints your time has come. Both domestically and globally, gin is enjoying something of a renaissance and recent research has confirmed that it is now rivalling vodka as the most popular white spirit in Australia. It seems drinkers across a range of age groups have discovered gin, with many in the business putting this rise in popularity down to the emergence of a new breed of craft gin makers.
Enter Stage and Screen client - Four Pillars, a boutique gin distillery founded by three friends with a passion for, you guessed it, gin! But more than that they have a passion for the authentic craft of distilling. So much so that their custom-built copper pot stills each have a name. Christened Wilma, Jude and Eileen – and all made by CARL Artisan Stills in Germany - each still is busy turning out uniquely flavoured gins.
The boys with this seemingly dream job are Cameron Mackenzie, Matt Jones and Stuart Gregor – who originally turned to a crowd funding campaign to get their gin to market. In 2013 the first batch was ready and the 450 individually numbered and labelled bottles sold out in four days. Today Four Pillars is the name on the lips of gin lovers across Australia as they turn out gold medal winning gins from their purpose-built distillery operation and tasting bar in Healesville in the Yarra Valley. Plus they are now exporting their gin to the United States, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, the United Kingdom and Denmark.
When not distilling gin, the Four Pillars team are busy hosting tastings, ‘meet the distiller’ events, workshops and master classes in various locations and at their destination distillery - all just an hour’s drive from Melbourne. And should you need another reason to visit, Four Pillars has been named in Lonely Planet’s list of the World’s Top 10 Micro-Distilleries in their Best In Travel 2017 review.
I’LL DRINK TO THAT...
We asked Four Pillar’s Stuart Gregor about the best gin cocktails and where to enjoy them.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE GIN COCKTAILS?
- G&T – you can’t go wrong with this simple cocktail on a hot summer day. Our Rare Dry works perfectly in this drink.
- Southside – a perfect balance of gin, sugar syrup, lime juice and mint.
- Gimlet – preferably with Navy Strength Gin. Some of my most (un)memorable nights have started with this drink!
- Martini – James Bond was onto something.
- Negroni – probably my favourite of all gin cocktails. The perfect mix of bitter and sweet.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BARS?
We are so lucky in Australia, in that our small bar scene is really taking off - with great new cocktail bars opening every other week.
We have fantastic bars like Baxter Inn, Shady Pines, Button Bar and Big Poppas which I love.
We’ve got Gin Palace, which is an institution and then Black Pearl, which is one of the best bars in the world. Bad Frankie is another all time favourite – they stock only Aussie spirits, so it’s a great place to go for a drink.
We love Merchant House – we’ve done a couple of events here and always have a bit too much fun!!
I have been known to frequent places like Mothers Ruin, Attaboy and Bathtub Gin – a cool bar with a hidden entrance, and some Four Pillars behind the bar.
ARE THERE ANY DO’S AND DONT'S WHEN DRINKING GIN?
DO keep it local. There are so many awesome Aussie gins (and whiskeys and vodkas) available today, there is no reason to buy imported spirits.
DON’T compromise and buy cheap tonic water. Your G&T is 75% tonic water, so it’s worth buying a good one.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR SURVIVING THE SILLY SEASON?
A few Navy Strength G&Ts will help you to deal with your in-laws!