When the team at Four Pillars unveil their new-look distillery on April 26, it will put a spotlight on Yarra Valley for all the right environmental reasons.
The $7 million expansion of the Healesville site was designed and executed by sustainability-driven Breathe Architecture, and will nearly triple capacity. It includes a new production space, an outdoor gin garden and a custom-built bar and events area.
The site will mostly be powered by solar panels and is surrounded by a towering copper "veil" that works as a natural heat exchanger.
Patrons enter through a central courtyard where the smell of spiced chai greets visitors thanks to a "chai river" that runs through the courtyard and cools the water coming from the stills.
Inside, a high-end cocktail bar serves visitors who can imbibe in a variety of areas, including 24 booths decked out in Pinatex, a material made from waste pineapple fibre.
"All of our gins and tonic will be on tap, so rather than opening bottles to make cocktails, we're refilling them from tap," says co-founder Cameron Mackenzie. "It means less waste. That takes between 600 and 700 kilos of glass usage out of this business a week."
When Mackenzie, his wine industry pal Stuart Gregor, and branding and creative guru Matt Jones founded Four Pillars in 2013, they started small.
Production stepped up a gear when they moved to the Healesville property (then a timber yard) in 2015, and the team now runs the largest gin-focused distillery in Australia.
"We never want the tail to wag the dog," Mackenzie says. "This is a gin distillery with a bar, not the other way around. Everything here links back to production. We've been gutsy enough to invest when we needed to, which is sometimes terrifying."
The team expects to welcome 200,000 people a year.
"This area has become a real precinct," Mackenzie says. "We've got Payten and Jones winery and cellar door across the road, No.7 Healesville [restaurant and urban winery] is nearby, Jayden Ong Winery & Cellar Bar is a street away, and Watts River Brewing is 100 metres away."
Open Sun-Thu 10.30am-5.30pm, Fri-Sat 10.30am-9pm.
2A Lilydale Road, Healesville, 1800 374 446, fourpillarsgin.com