The beauty of gin is that one is free to explore beyond the confines of a box, and the Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin is testament of that.
Unlike Scotch whisky, which is governed by rules and regulations on what gives the liquor its name, gin is a free spirit. All you need is juniper berries and the rest is up to the distillery’s creativity to truly make it their own. In fact, some have such unusual botanicals including nangka and pandan, flavours extremely familiar to us Malaysians. Australian brand Four Pillars is doing the same with its Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin.
The best of the outback’s provisions
Four Pillars was one of the first craft distillers in Australia producing gin, and it was astonishingly good at it. Making use of the diverse range of native botanicals in the outback – including lemon myrtle, Pepperberry leaf and fresh local citrus – the brand was able to create an artisanal gin unique to the flavours of Australia. With the Bloody Shiraz Gin, the gin maker is able to take this one step further by combining not just native botanicals but also another famous Australian export: shiraz wine.
At first glance, the Bloody Shiraz Gin is reminiscent of sloe gin, the latter being a British red liqueur made of gin and sloe, a type of berry. It’s a very palatable liqueur perfect for sipping on thanks to its sweet and plummy flavour properties. The Bloody Shiraz Gin was in fact, Four Pillars’ rendition of a sloe gin but with an Australian twist, naturally. By steeping the original Rare Dry Gin in shiraz grapes from the Yarra Valley, you get a brand new spirit that’s rich with tasting notes from the grapes. It won’t be as sweet as sloe gin, but it will be the perfect building blocks of unique cocktails.
A personal taste
The Bloody Shiraz Gin has notes of juniper, raspberries, and heady spices. As I sampled it neat, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t sweet. In fact, it tasted just like a strong gin would: juniper-forward, spicy, with mild hints of earthy berries and a slightly dry mouthfeel. The shocker, however, came in the aftertaste — a glorious bitter and minty sensation reminiscent of rosemary.
On the Four Pillars site, there are recommended cocktail recipes to try with the Bloody Shiraz Gin. I tried the Bloody & Lemon, a refreshing cocktail that is a level above a regular Gin & Tonic. Combine two parts of lemon tonic water with one part of the gin over ice, then garnish with a wedge of grapefruit and a sprig of rosemary. This cocktail makes for a good aperitif on a warm evening with a nice balance of sweet, tartness, and bitterness.
I also tried the Bloody Shiraz Gin in a classic Negroni recipe for something stronger. While it wasn’t a bad combination, it definitely makes for a sweeter Negroni. Conversely, you can also make an easy Gin & Tonic out of this gin, which is never a bad idea.
Four Pillars Gin is distributed by Luen Heng F&B in Malaysia.
(All images: Four Pillars Gin)