Annabel Smith

Four Pillars gin.
Four Pillars Gin. Photo: Supplied

Four Pillars Gin has won a double gold medal at this year's prestigious San Francisco World Spirit Competition.

The Australian gin was among nine gins awarded double gold status, in a class of 92 gins from around the world. The new distillery is based in Victoria's Yarra Valley and was established late last year, selling its first two batches via crowd-funding site Pozible.

Artisans: Stuart Gregor (left), Cameron Mackenzie and Matt Jones, of Four Pillars.
Stuart Gregor, Cameron Mackenzie and Matt Jones, of Four Pillars. Photo: Supplied

Distiller Cameron Mackenzie believes the award is good for Australia's fledgling artisan spirit industry.

"We'd like to see demand for Australian craft spirits in general go up. It's not just a win for us," he said.

"Before we started we saw that 97 per cent or thereabouts of gin consumed in Australia was imported ... There's absolutely no barrier from a creative or ingredient point of view for Australia to produce world class gins."

The award-winning gin's botanical blend includes native lemon myrtle and Tasmanian pepperberry. Whole fresh oranges are also used, moving away from traditional peel.

"Modern Australia to us is a harmonious blend of cultures. We had a canvas of juniper which was very European and we then drew spices from south-east Asia right through to the Middle East, and then added native Australian botanicals, and a Mediterranean twist from the oranges," Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie said perfecting the gin was a lengthy process.

"We researched botanical after botanical, distilled about 70 or 80 botanicals to see what we liked, and arrived at the final 10. We tried things like hibiscus which was quite odd, and other weird myrtles, such as a beautiful cinnamon myrtle that just didn't really work with our spices," Mackenzie said.

It would seem that the San Francisco judges are fond of Australian native ingredients, with Western Australia-based distillery West Winds winning a double gold medal for their The Cutlass gin at the 2013 competition. The Cutlass features bush tomatoes, while its sister gin, The Sabre, uses wattle seed.

The San Francisco World Spirit Competition is in its 14th year. Distillers submit their spirits to be judged blind by an expert panel. Full results will be published on April 9 at sfspiritscomp.com.