Drinks News

Coming soon: the Four Pillars Australian Christmas Gin for 2020

There’s one tradition that can’t be killed off this year, and that’s the highly awaited annual release of this yuletide tipple.

By Yvonne C Lam
It's hard to know what Christmas will look like this year. But there's one tradition 2020 can't kill off entirely, and that's the annual release of the Four Pillars Australian Christmas Gin.
It's set to be released on October 31, which marks the fifth year of the yuletide tipple for the gin company. (The flagship distillery is located in Victoria's Yarra Valley, and there's a smaller, experimental drinks "laboratory" in Sydney's Surry Hills.)
The history of the special-release gin is well documented. Every year the three founders of Four Pillars – Cameron Mackenzie, Matt Jones and Stuart Gregor – and their families get together to make Christmas plum puddings by following a 1968 Women's Weekly recipe, the very same used by Mackenzie's late mother, Wilma. This year, due to state border closures, the families will be convening over Zoom. "It is going to be hilarious," says Mackenzie.
The pudding is distilled with juniper, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, then blended with a portion of the previous year's aged gin, Four Pillars Rare Dry gin, and touch of muscat. The spirit is aged for 11 months in 100-year-old barrels which previously stored muscat, which further imparts a complex fortified-wine character. The gin is put into production a year ahead of its release – the 2020 edition was distilled and blended in 2019, while the 2021 supply will be produced from this year's puddings.
And it sells out, every year. Mackenzie attributes its popularity to its distinctive festive flavours – Christmas pudding in a bottle, if you will. "It works so well because juniper has a distinct Christmas tree character. It tastes exactly how a Christmas gin should taste – indulgent and rich, but still gin," he said last year.
The spirit can be served neat or poured over pudding, though Four Pillars also recommends it mixed into a Negroni, or poured over ice with bitters, ginger ale and a squeeze of lime.
Though the Christmas gin recipe stays largely the same, each release features a new illustrated label from an Australian artist. This year's work is by Lucy Dyson, a Melbourne-born, Berlin-based artist whose portfolio includes off-beat music videos for Courtney Barnett and Paul Kelly, and an animation for a Beyoncé's Formation World Tour. Her gin label is a collaged tableau of holidaying families, supersized bell flowers, and a Christmas pudding set adrift on a lake. According to a press release, the work reimagines the warmth and closeness of a traditional Christmas Day, placed in a surreal Australian landscape.
And considering the year that's been, Christmas could be a very surreal time indeed. But, global pandemic or not, the tradition of this Christmas gin lives on.
The Four Pillars Australian Christmas Gin is available from October 31 until sold out. Available from the Four Pillars Distillery, 2A Lilydale Rd, Healesville, Vic; Four Pillars Gin Shop, 410 Crown St
Surry Hills, NSW; or online at fourpillarsgin.com.