Three years after the mad scientists at Four Pillars dreamed up a gin infused with the flavours of shiraz, it's fair to say the ruby-coloured elixir has developed a cult following. The Yarra Valley distillery's Bloody Shiraz Gin has sold out every year since it was first officially released, prompting the team to make 75,000 bottles for this year's release, which goes on sale today.
The purple-hued liquid may remind you of sloe gin's appearance, but the similarities end there. Bloody Shiraz Gin is made by steeping shiraz grapes, skins and all, in Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin for eight weeks before pressing the fruit. Then, more gin is added to bring it up to the 37.8 per cent ABV that makes it a killer addition to a cocktail. Sloe gin, on the other hand, has a much lower ABV and has sugar added during production.
"I've never been a huge fan of sloe gin," says head distiller Cameron Mackenzie. "It's incredibly tart and acidic and [the flavour of the fruit] overpowers the gin. It becomes a liqueur."
This year's Bloody Shiraz Gin was made with a blend of early- and late-picked shiraz grapes from three vineyards in the Yarra Valley, a combination that Mackenzie says has resulted in a different flavour compared to previous year's bottlings.
"We picked some shiraz early to get those bright raspberry flavours, and some late for more plum and dark cherry."
When you manage to get your hands on a bottle, try it neat over ice to appreciate the spice and plum notes of the shiraz mixed with the orange and lemon myrtle of the gin. It also works well in cocktails, perhaps in place of vermouth in a Negroni or in a riff on a Tom Collins.
If you've spent the last year eyeing off the purple bottle sitting on a shelf at your favourite bar, we recommend acting fast.
Bloody Shiraz Gin is available from 1 June 2018 online, from Four Pillars' distillery in Healesville, Victoria, and from select retailers. fourpillarsgin.com.au