Have you ever tried distilled Christmas pudding? Christmas spirit redefined.
Why go to all the trouble of eating Christmas pudding when this year you can drink it? Cameron Mackenzie, chief distiller and co-owner of Four Pillars, has turned it into a gin. Looking over his mum's Christmas pudding recipe, from a 1968 Australian Women's Weekly, it occurred to Mackenzie that all the ingredients were ripe for distilling. "So we made some Christmas puddings and distilled gin with a base of juniper, star anise, coriander and angelica over the top," he says. Naturally.
The gin is aged in 125-year-old barrels previously home to Grant's whisky and Rutherglen muscat, and finished with a dash of muscat for added richness.
The resulting "Australian Christmas Gin" smells, and initially tastes, mostly like gin, but has a raisin and toffee aftertaste reminiscent of Christmas pudding. Or, as Mackenzie puts it, "it smells like gin and tastes like Christmas".
This is the first year the company has produced the festive gin, but Mackenzie reckons it'll be the start of a tradition. "We're going to be baking and distilling Christmas puddings on Derby Day every year to make a new batch of Christmas gin."
Each year will also bring a new label, he says, designed by a different artist. Rather than the Four Pillars' logo, this first bottling features a bright, bauble-inspired artwork by Jade Suine.
Despite the use of pudding, the gin isn't especially sweet; it has a rich, complex flavour that Mackenzie says is best appreciated neat or over ice. It can also be used to make a fun Christmas take on a Martinez, a Gin Flip (think of it as a cocktail version of eggnog) or poured straight over the Christmas pudding. Now that's what we call Christmas spirit.
Four Pillars' Australian Christmas Gin ($95) is now sold out online at fourpillarsgin.com.au, but is still available from the distillery in Healesville, Victoria, and from select retailers.