Cameron Mackenzie’s Way Of Gin

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Cameron Mackenzie, Head Distiller at Four Pillars Gin, shares about his passion for distilling and the pillars of his distillery.

Cameron grew up in Melbourne as the youngest of five boys in a fairly large and noisy family. His remembered his mother as a great cook and who liked nothing more than a family dinner.

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“She wasn’t afraid to try new recipes and encouraged us to eat a lot of different foods. Drinks, however, were a different story. I drank only milk or water! Maybe the odd fruit juice but not a lot of sugary drinks,” he reminisced.

When he turned 16, Cameron was allowed the occasional small glass of wine with meals. “I remember my mum drinking martinis —with Beefeater, a gin I still love— and wondering what all the fuss was about. I found them too dry at that age! Amazing how tastes change.”

Before Four Pillars, Cameron had worked in the wine industry for many years, starting in production and moving into various management roles.

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“I found myself moving further away from the production side so I decided to do something a bit different,“ he said.

He and Stu Gregor, Four Pillars cofounder, have been great mates for years and decided to do something together. “We loved gin but our first idea was to make tonic water! This idea lasted a few weeks before we came to our senses and decided to make gin.”

In his eyes, gin is the perfect white spirit for wine folks – it’s all about flavor, aroma, balance and texture. “We felt Australia had a lot to offer with gin because we have some amazing native botanicals but we are also very much a part of Asia so the access to spices is amazing.”

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Their idea was to make a modern Australian gin. This meant a canvas of Europe (through juniper), spices from South East Asia (coriander, star anise, cassia, cardamom), native Australian botanicals (lemon myrtle and Tasmanian (pepperberry leaf) and a slight Mediterranean lift (fresh oranges).

The result is a very modern and contemporary style of gin. “Juniper is a great canvas for all the other botanicals. We always serve our G & Ts with orange.”

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Four Pillars sold their its first batch of Rare Dry Gin through a crowdfunding campaign on Pozible in late 2013 to a very enthusiastic group of gin-lovers. They now have have five different gins, multiple gold medals from international spirits competitions and a brand new distillery operation and tasting bar.

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The four pillars of the distillery are stills, water, botanicals and love. For stills, they have magnificent copper pot stills, made by CARL in Germany (they are christened Wilma, Jude and Eileen). The water is sourced from Yarra Valley — their home. Botanicals, some native to Australia, some sourced from around the world, come both dry and fresh. Love, the commitment to craft and attention to detail, is there at every step of the way.

“So far it has been amazing. We have twice won double gold at the world spirit comp in San Francisco as well as gold medals in a range of other competitions. Our Rare Dry Gin is the highest selling Australian craft spirit and we are exporting to 14 different markets. It’s been a busy couple of years!” said Cameron.

The distillery is not planning on slowing down.

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“We’d like to keep growing and making small batches of innovative things. Our Bloody Shiraz Gin has taken the world by storm which is very exciting. I think for the most part we will keep working hard and keep having a lot of fun!”

FOUR PILLARS GIN
2a Lilydale Road
Healesville, Australia
T:+ 61 3 5962 2791
www.fourpillarsgin.com.au
Twitter: @FourPillarsGin
Facebook: FourPillarsGin
Instagram: @fourpillarsgin
Photographs by: Four Pillars Gin


Written by Andre Arditya August 1, 2017.

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