The entire idea for making Four Pillars barrel-aged gins was inspired by what Stu calls 'a revelation in a bottle' which he and Cam tried during their now infamous US gin-reconnaissance road trip.
It was an Old Tom style of gin from Ransom Spirits in Sheridan, Oregon. And 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 unmistakably 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).
Six months later our first Barrel Aged Gin came to be. Then our second release won gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2015, and it's just been getting better ever since...
Four years and six releases on, it's 2018 and we’re so proud to introduce to you two new Four Pillars family members of the barrel aged variety. Two incredibly distinct and delicious sipping gins: our Chardonnay Barrel Gin and our first Sherry Cask Gin.
Our solera of Chardonnay barrels has grown from two barrels to 16 since our first release. You can see the solera sitting tall behind and to the right of Wilma in the distillery. Release No_7 has been newly christened as our Chardonnay Barrel Gin. It has been in barrel about six months longer than the 2017 release (making it a full year in barrel), showing even more of those gorgeous preserved ginger notes, richer spice, and oaky sweetness.
Our brand new release is something we’ve been experimenting with for a while now, a blend from our solera of 42 Spanish Sherry and Australian Apera casks (from one of our mates who makes famous Australian fortified wines). This solera stretches out behind both Jude and Wilma.
This first release has been taken from the bottom row of barrels only, with fresh Rare Dry Gin topping up the top barrels.The final blend has been given a tweak of Amontillado Sherry from Spain, producing a sipping gin with nutty, sweet flavours plus juniper and notes of crushed coriander seed. The response to this new barrel aged expression has been phenomenal, and it won a Gold at the 2018 Global Gin Masters.
We'll be straight up here in saying these aren't tonic water gins - they're so interesting and nuanced, we suggest enjoying them neat or on the rocks. But you can check out a few more suggestions here.