Four Pillars Distillery is a unique experience and one we highly recommend you take in. We had an incredible visit to this gorgeous distillery in a truly beautiful part of Victoria, the Yarra Valley.
As with the Margaret River, where our Grove gin came from, the Yarra Valley is better known for it’s wine. Four Pillars is rapidly changing that however, particularly with their recent expansion into the US and UK. We suspect there will be a whole wave of visitors to Australia, who only know the Yarra Valley as ‘where Four Pillars gin is from’.
We’ll let the team at Four Pillars tell you more of their story in their own words shortly. Before we do, we have to say our experience of Four Pillars has been, in the best possible way, a fantastic mixture of Australian charm and friendliness, professionalism and knowledge and incredibly smart, engaging, branding and promotion.
It’s a real pleasure to see that the warmth and engagement you’ve observed in a brand, is born out when you actually visit the distillery and meet the team behind it. From the moment we were picked up by ‘Bartender at Large’ Sam Ng, to meeting distiller Cam, to running through a tasting in the bar, the team behind Four Pillars were exceptionally warm and friendly and willing to give as much insight as possible.
It didn’t hurt that as we arrived Cam was emptying a distillation run and the smell was absolutely incredible! We were treated to a tour of the distillery that included a couple sneak peaks at what might be on the cards for future releases. Needless to say, we’re keeping an interested ear to the ground for our members.
The Four Pillars Story: We started out in December 2013. It all began when Cameron Mackenzie and Stuart Gregor, both wine industry veterans, got talking about their next adventure. The original plan was to make tonic, but that idea lasted about 72 hours – until they saw a giant alcohol machine and decided, ‘who wants to make soft drink?!’
“It was a combination of things really – both Stu and I’ve always been gin drinkers and were looking for a new project after several years in the wine industry. Our conversation about making tonic rapidly moved to making gin. It made sense and the more we looked into it the more obsessed we became.
Through our obsession, we discovered the amazing craft distilling scenes that had been emerging over the last few years in the UK and US. We also learnt that more than 90% of the gin consumed in Australia was imported. We wanted to help change that.” – Cameron
Cameron is our distiller, operations guru, educator, locavore, and still shiner. He is, quite simply, the heart and soul of Four Pillars. Before throwing his lot into the production of craft spirits, Cam was a fifteen year veteran of the wine trade, having made, sold, marketed and judged many of Victoria’s best known wine brands. Cam is also a former Olympian, having run in the 4x400m at 1996 Games, before he started working with Stuart on an Olympic scholarship in 1998. His running career went rapidly downhill – he missed a spot in the 2000 Olympic team by one place – and Stuart has felt guilty ever since.
If Cam is the heart and soul of Four Pillar then Stuart is the voice. Stu is a veteran of 20 years in the drinks business and has launched and promoted dozens of premium brands in wine, spirits and beer. His business Liquid Ideas is one of Australia’s leading consumer lifestyle PR agencies. He is a regular commentator on marketing and PR, and President of the Australian Distillers Association. Stu also has a (surprisingly) sensitive and sophisticated palate, making him Cameron’s chief collaborator when it comes to fine-tuning our gins.
Matt Jones is the third founder of Four Pillars, preferring to spend his time behind the scenes working on brand, design, storytelling, creative partnerships and social community building that ensure more and more people share in the simple perfection of a Four Pillars Gin and Tonic.
Matt has a lifelong passion for storytelling, experiences, design and beautiful things, and that shows in all that Four Pillars does. When he’s not working on Four Pillars, Matt is the Director of Better Happy, a creative brand agency. Before founding Better Happy, Matt was the Global Head of Ideas at Jack Morton Worldwide, a US-based brand experience agency.
“My profession is building brands, but with Four Pillars I am absolutely clear: we’re not in the business of marketing. We’re in the business of making. And what we make is great gin. But there’s no point making great gin unless we can share it with people around the world.” – Matt
You can find us in Healesville, Yarra Valley about an hours drive from the CBD of Melbourne, the food and wine capital of Australia. In October 2015 we moved into our new home, a gorgeous old timber yard on Healesville’s main drag.
The Four Pillars Distillery houses our original copper still Wilma (450L) and her two new siblings Jude and Eileen, all manufactured by Carl in Germany. Jude is a 600L still, while Eileen is a small experimental still giving us the capability to make batches of all sorts of crazy, ‘ginnovative’ things.
The distillery also houses a fully functioning tasting room, and a bar serving multiple versions of the three greatest gin cocktails known to man – the G&T, Martini and Negroni. There are also tours, occasional masterclasses, and all manner of fun.