Gin giant Four Pillars has unveiled a $7 million upgrade to its Yarra Valley location, making it the first carbon-neutral gin distillery in Australia under strict Climate Active certification.
Doors to the new-look venue will open in April, with more than 1000 new square metres designed by Melbourne’s Breathe Architecture involving recycled bricks, Piñatex “pineapple leather” upholstery, and solar roof panels.
The grounds will also see a swathe of new local natives and botanicals, with some to be used in future gin distillations, the company says.
Four Pillars co-founder and distiller Cameron Mackenzie says it’s “a landmark day” for Four Pillars.
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“From the very first day we distilled gin, we have tried to recycle, re-use and replenish our environment and give back to the community. We cannot give more to the community than assure it that our gins tread carefully on our planet, especially in this time of climate crisis,” he says.
“Our journey to carbon-neutral began with the simple idea of reusing oranges for marmalade, giving spent botanicals to pigs for feed, putting solar panels on our roof and of course offsetting what can be an energy-intensive production process by carefully purchasing mainly domestic carbon credits.”
Co-founder Stuart Gregor told SmartCompany he was really excited about being the first carbon-neutral gin distillery, describing it as “a complicated and quite expensive process but definitely worthwhile”.
“Distilling can be an energy-hungry manufacturing process but we have shown that if you are committed and fastidious, achievements like this can become real.”
The pair say they’ve been working with Climate Active — an Australian government initiative — and consultants Ndevr Environmental for more than a year to achieve the carbon-neutral accreditation, which considers both the gin’s preparation and distribution.
To save on glass waste, the world-famous gin will be “piped” to the main bar — where customers can dine and drink — through copper pipes, while its compadre, tonic, will be stored in kegs rather than glass bottles.
The company says these two initiatives alone will see the site save 29 tonnes of glass per year.
The copper theme will continue outside, with more than 1650 metres of raw copper tubing to give the Healesville location a new steampunk look, while also functioning as a heat exchange to slash energy consumption.
Four Pillars has gone from strength to strength since it was founded in 2013 — it won International Gin Producer of the Year in 2019 and 2020 in the prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition, and the World Gin Awards 2022 Icons of Gin Distiller of the Year and Brand Innovator of the Year.
In 2019, Gregor and Mackenzie together with co-founder Matt Jones sold a 50% stake in the business to multi-national drinks giant Lion with plans to move into the international duty-free market and other opportunities in south-east Asia and mainland Europe.
The distiller survived several lockdowns in Victoria by diversifying into hand sanitiser and opening a new venue, the Four Pillars Laboratory in Sydney’s Surry Hills.