At The Bar with Four Pillars Distiller Cameron Mackenzie

Healesville’s best known gin distillery Four Pillars can do no wrong, and that’s a good thing if you’re a gin lover. The award-winning distillery just took out the World’s Best Gin Producer for a third year running at the 2023 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London this month.

Co-founder and distiller Cameron Mackenzie, who started Four Pillars in 2013, was in London to accept the award. He’s pretty chuffed with the huge pat on the back that ultimately reflects the hard work of his close-knit team.

“We were stoked to win,” says Cameron Mackenzie.

“It means the world to us and is a great reflection of an incredible team.  We have grown rapidly over the last 10 years, but we always felt the gins were getting better as we grew.  To win this award three times in the last five years highlights the teams attention to detail and ruthless focus on quality,” he says.

Four Pillars is continuing on its innovative path by exploring exotic botanicals and distillation techniques – not exactly an easy or cheap process, but one that’s paying dividends now. They’re keenly focused on growing a list of small batch ideas and expanding the Healesville space in 2024.

“We are releasing a barrel aged gin that has been finished in Lark barrels and we have a few similar gins in the works and I feel our best gins are in front of us,” says Mackenzie.

He spoke to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

MY CITY

Not so much a city but a town – Healesville.  I live in Healesville and I love it because it has pretty much everything.  Great pub, brilliant cafes and restaurants, the best cheese monger in the world (Sophie Cheesemonger), and we even have a BP servo that sells $5 burgers on a Wednesday. We have wineries in the township (Payten & Jones, Jayden Ong, Giant Steps), a brewery (Watts River) and a pretty nifty gin joint (Four Pillars…but I would say that).  Honestly, if Healesville had yum cha I’d probably never leave the township.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

We were lucky to travel to Paris in January and we had the best roast chicken I have ever had in my life at Brutos.  Two families (the Mackenzies and the Gregors) having a Sunday lunch.  It was epic food and brilliant company.

FAVOURITE BAR MEMORY

In 1999, I drank my first ever martini at the Gin Palace.  Wolf Blass had just won the Jimmy Watson Trophy and we ended up at the Gin Palace at 2am.  I was working at a winery, so I tagged along for the party.  The late Vernon Chalker made a jug of martini in the Jimmy Watson Trophy and Stu Gregor poured it for the crowd.  It was a huge night and may well have started my journey into gin.

WINE THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOU

Cool climate shiraz.  I’ve got a bit of spice and I’m aging quite well.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

I am a big fan of the pre-emptive strike so a 3am kebab is my go-to.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Since Frankie’s closed in Sydney, I have moved to Shady Pines.

FAVOURITE WINE

I love old Hunter Valley Semillon.  Especially Tyrells Vat 1.

FAVOURITE WINERY

I love everything in the Yarra Valley, but will travel to Gippsland for Dirty Three. Satchie and I did our first vintage together and I love what he and Lisa are doing in Inverloch.  Terrific fun.

NEXT DESTINATION

We are just starting to plan a trip to the Galapagos.  I have friends who tell me it is an incredible place to visit.

 

 

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