There seems to be a wave of new world gins coming over to the UK in the past 12-18 months, with Australia taking the ground of offering innovative brands and expressions. Oceania as a whole seem to offer a good selection, with Lighthouse gin from New Zealand already making its mark on the UK mainland with their original and navy strength formula, but experiencing a full range can be tricky, especially here in Manchester. With the growing bar scene and their willingness to experience the full potential of each brand, the city have been inviting Australia over to show off their look, with West Winds starting the trend, followed closely by Four Pillars.
Four Pillars is the showcased brand here as Stuart Gregor, one of the co-founders of the brand, visited last week as part of his UK tour (hitting also Liverpool, Leeds, London amongst others). Created back in 2013, Stuart and fellow marketing and wine maker Cameron Mackenzie and brand guru Matt Jones used Pozible (the Australian version of Kickstarter) to fund their dream of a craft distillery within the Yarra Valley, close to Melbourne. Using a CARL copper pot still (originating from the CARL workshop in Stuttgart, Germany, also the first of her kind commissioned in Australia) named Wilma which holds 450 litres and comes equipped with a botanical basket (for the whole oranges used within the recipe).
There’s enough capacity to create 460 bottles per seven hour distillation, but recent expansion now means that Wilma is joined by Jude (600 litres) and Eileen (50 litres and predominantly for experimental runs).
The water used to cut the gin down to the desired strength comes from the Yarra Valley, itself seen as some of the best water available due to the area’s protected water catchment area. The 157,000 hectares of mountain forests mean the rain water falls and filters naturally through eucalyptus foliage, ferns and dense forest floor, resulting in an alkaline water base with a crystal clear finish and a crisp, fresh sweet taste. This is filtered three times before being added to Four Pillars.
The botanicals within Four Pillars took 18 months of trials to get to the finished recipe, resulting in 10 botanicals featured. Included are two native botanicals in Tasmanian pepperberry and lemon myrtle (both in dry leaf form), plus cassia, star anise, cardamom and coriander seeds, juniper, lavender, whole oranges and angelica root.
For the Navy Strength expression, fresh finger limes are added to offer a more South East Asian feel to the gin.
So how do they all fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Four Pillars Rare Dry – 41.8%
Subtle coriander and cardaman come through on the nose, with both flavours expressed more vibrantly upon the palate. Orange comes through with a bold statement, with the lemon offering a fresh, long, slight earthy finish.
Four Pillars Navy Strength – 58.8%
A savoury nose, with lavender and coriander coming through well. Sharp on the palate to begin, with dry citrus, slight salt too with a long, bold, sweet liquorice finish.
Four Pillars Barrel Aged – 43.8%
Soft, subtle oak on the nose, with subtle vanilla notes, slight Sauterne that offers onto the palate a sweet and very long bold, fresh finish.
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz – 37.8%
Dried stoned fruits upon the nose, moving to a bold, naturally sweet profile on the palate. Plenty of dried prune and ripe grape coming through for a balanced, light finish.
Four Pillars Spiced Negroni – 43.8%
The first in the Bartender Series, this expression has been created in collaboration with Cameron (Four Pillars distiller) and Jason (then Manager of Sydney bars including The Rook and one of the World’s Top Ten Bartenders), bringing the Negroni cocktail as its inspiration.
Subtle white pepper upon the nose, with cardamon, lemon zest and grapefruit rind following. A soft start on the palate, growing in intensity with fresh grapefruit, lemon peel and cinnamon bark combining. Nutmeg and a soft anise are present on the long finish.
An amazing array of Australian gins that are perfect to enjoy over ice, but these recipes do look intriguing –
The Drop Bear
50 ml Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin
10 ml elderflower liqueur
30 ml eucalyptus syrup
30 ml fresh lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters
10 ml egg white
Add ingredients to a shaker without ice and shake for 10 seconds (this will get that egg white nice and frothy). Add ice to the shaker and shake again. Strain into a chilled coupette.
20 ml Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin
20 ml Campari
20 ml Dry Curacao (or any other orange liqueur, such as Cointreau)
20 ml fresh lemon juice
1 dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters
Lemon twist for garnish
Add ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupette glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
A range to entice you for sure, and should be a part of anyone gin collection. The Bloody Shiraz offers something different to the flavoured gin category, and the Barrel Aged is one of the better one’s, I believe, on the market today.
Shame we don’t get the sunshine enough to enjoy it the proper Australian way!
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.