Today has been a big day for the Australian Gin distillery, Four Pillars. At 5 am this morning AEST, the brand received the news that they have been declared the International Gin Producer of the Year.
Now that’s a pretty big deal but when you realise that this is actually the second consecutive year they have won the award at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) you have some idea of the excitement.
Brand co-owner and head distiller Cameron Mackenzie said: “After the year we’ve had and the exhaustion we have felt, I couldn’t quite believe it when they called out our name. I was wearing my full kilt for good luck, the same as I did last year in London, and I don’t think I will take it off all day, maybe all week.”
The IWSC is the world’s longest-running, largest and most prestigious spirits competition with more than 4000 entries from distilleries across the globe. In 2019, Four Pillars was the first Australian distillery to win any International Producer of the Year title and going back-to-back cements its position at the very top of the world of gin producers large and small.
Mackenzie continued: “This is a triumph for strength over adversity, for professionalism and passion in the face of what sometimes in 2020 seemed insurmountable odds. This is a victory for every single person in the Four Pillars world but most particularly for everyone at Healesville who has faced so much uncertainty and difficulty this year but has never stopped putting in the hard yards.”
Even with everything that has happened this year, 2020 has been a big one for Four Pillars Gin. The brand has released its much-lauded Olive Leaf Gin, they have continued to grow its Bloody Shiraz and Rare Dry gins availability across the world and they also opened a world-class Laboratory in Sydney’s Surry Hills.
To talk about the Drinks Lab and what people should expect, we caught up with another of the brand’s co-owners, Stu Gregor.
“When people come to the Drinks lab, we want them to enjoy themselves, particularly due to the current environment,” said Gregor. “I don’t want people to think they are being lectured about how to drink gin properly. We just want them to have some beautiful cocktails and just kickback.
“We want people to be able to come here and reconnect with people,” he continued. “Get off the zoomed actually have some fun – socially distanced of course.
Opening in a pandemic possibly wasn’t the easiest way to start and Gregor admits that the restrictions have been difficult. In normal circumstances, the venue is licensed to hold 112, but due to distancing, they can only have 42 people in the space at any given time. “It’s not easy giving away nearly 80 seats a night,he said, “but you try to make the best of it. It’s given us the opportunity to have a very extended soft opening.”
While this year may have been big for the brand, Gregor says, next year will have more innovation, more fun and more gins (including an intriguing collab with a country from which you wouldn’t expect gin … more on this later …).
Four Pillars Gin was established in 2013 in the Yarra Valley on the outskirts of Melbourne and has become one of the world’s benchmark distilleries, Australia’s number one craft spirit and a leading light in the Australian and global gin revolution.
The brand produces around 600,000 bottles of gin per year (making them Australia’s leading gin distillery) and they distribute those in more than 30 markets across the world. Anditisworth noting that both the brand’s Bloody Shiraz Gin and Rare Dry Gin won Gold Medals at this year’s IWSC as well.
“Producer trophies are the pinnacle of achievement,” said IWSC Head of Tastings, Pip Mortimer. “They reward the overall portfolio, ethos and achievement of companies that enter the IWSC.”
“This is a triumph for strength over adversity, for professionalism and passion in the face of what sometimes in 2020 seemed insurmountable odds,” Mortimer continued. “This is a victory for every single person in the Four Pillars world but most particularly for everyone at Healesville who has faced so much uncertainty and difficulty this year but has never stopped putting in the hard yards.”
If you are able to get to the brand’s Surry Hills Drinks Lab, it’s well worth the effort. Or if that’s not an option just yet, grab a bottle of the brand’s award-winning gin and do as Mackenzie said he would when he heard of their win. “I am now off for a socially distanced drink or two…who’d have thought that phrase would be uttered a year ago!”