The day that changed our gin-drinking lives came with our first true barrel aged gin: an Old Tom style of gin from Ransom Spirits in Sheridan, Oregon.
We were completely and utterly seduced. We encountered flavours we had never seen in gin before – toasty oak nuances in the background, a softness on the palate and yet still enough botanicals for it be unmistakeably gin.
We could sip it neat. We could imagine it in a hundred cocktails. We were a little bit in love. And we wanted to make one of our own.
So, we started to put some Rare Dry Gin into old chardonnay barrels as we were bottling our first batches at the end of 2013. We wanted to make a Barrel Aged Gin that was uniquely Four Pillars.
The choice of barrel was of course crucial, and it was an easy choice to look to our neighbouring wineries in the magnificent Yarra Valley region.
Our first two barrels came from the cellars of Tom Carson. The first winemaker to win the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy, Tom's vigneron skills have seen to the creation of the wines of Yabby Lake, Heathcote Estate and his own label Serrat. So needless to say, we were pretty confident in his purple hands.
We filled them straight away with Rare Dry Gin at a slightly higher proof. We also subtly adjusted the level of each botanical to allow for the oak.
As the assertiveness of American oak bodes well with bourbon, so does the delicacy of French with gin.
So our first two seven-year-old 225L barriques from Yabby Lake were previously used to mature premium Chardonnay, coopered by the outstanding Redmond and from forests in Limoges.
These barrels leant a distinct blonde colour to the gin – so we christened them the “Sisters Golden Hair,” a tribute to our inspirational road trip and that awesome song by America (which was the soundtrack to our trip).
We now have 9 barrels (but with 40 more being filled in 2016!) and in July 2016 we released Solera No_5, which is darker and with pronounced preserved ginger notes. The second release won gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and it's just been getting better ever since...