Travelling the Great Ocean Road has been on my bucket list since I can remember, so when I was Bridesmaid at a friend's wedding in Sydney last year with some family to call on in Perth and a friend to see in Melbourne, I had the perfect excuse to hire a car and do some exploring. Our plan from Adelaide to Sydney was to stick to the coast line, getting a crick in our necks from staring up at the ginormous gum trees hunting down koalas, but when we found out about the Four Pillars gin distillery about an hour East of Melbourne, we just had to check it out.
We arrived to an extremely friendly welcome and had the choice between two tasting options. One, a more informal affair with three different gins and tonics to go with them which you can enjoy in the bar area, or the alternative of tasting all the Four Pillars gins neat whilst furthering your gin knowledge and learning about the Four Pillars distillation process.
We took a while to make our decision as the gin geeks in us wanted the full information session but we weren't sure it was the right time for neat gin (I don't mean because it was 11am, it's never too early for gin, but because one of us had to carry on with the driving!) So our hosts were extremely accommodating and allowed us to share one neat gin tasting package between us giving us the best of both worlds!
The modern world of gins is an interesting one with the number of unusual and delicious variations out there, but I can't help but think that some of the gins I have had recently are so far removed from that traditional gin flavour, you forget what you're drinking. Four Pillars, despite being extremely unique, has remained quite definitely a gin and if you have never tried it, you're missing out.
When you raise that glass of perfectly distilled spirit up to your nose you are met instantly by sweet aromas of orange, so potent that even when you are expecting it you are still faced with an element of surprise. Instant curiosity meant we were straight away learning about the workings of Wilma, one of the Four Pillars' stills, which rather uniquely includes a phase of vapour being pushed through fresh oranges which are packed tightly inside the still. Fascinating. Naturally we left clutching a jar of Marmalade made specially with these booze soaked oranges. Equally as delicious as the gin and brilliant for adding a bit of a twist to a cocktail or too.
The guys at this Australian distillery swear by their stills which are made by CARL in Germany and shipped over. Wilma was their first but she is now joined by Jude and Eileen. You can check out the beautiful still through the windows whilst enjoying your gin.
The tasting experience was extremely difficult to fault. Our host struck exactly the right balance with being knowledgeable and informative but also upbeat and chilled, which reflects perfectly the Four Pillars brand and ethos. We came away with exactly the information you would expect to be provided with which was perfectly divided up between our tastings of their full range. Everything we tasted we enjoyed, even the Bloody Shiraz which I was a little unsure about trying as I was expecting it to be a little too sweet for my taste, but it is absolutely delicious.
Your tasting cost is redeemable on any full size bottle of gin so we of course made use of that and came away with a bottle of Four Pillars Negroni, which I can certainly say now I've got it home does make a very good Negroni.
So, get yourself to the Yarra Valley, call in and see these guys and you'll hopefully get a taste of their new Chardonnay barrel aged gin. And if you don't fancy the 24 hour flight to Oz, spend the money on their full range of gins instead!