“Bloody Shiraz” might sound like a French horror movie but for those in the know, it’s one of the most sought-after bottles of booze in Australia.
The wine and gin hybrid from Four Pillars Gin has only been produced twice, and both years the stock has completely sold out.
The first batch, with 250 kilograms of grapes, sold out in weeks. The second instalment used two tonnes, and sold out in a couple of months.
For this year’s batch, Four Pillars obtained 10 tonnes of grapes. It might seem like a lot, but head distiller Cameron Mackenzie says given the response in earlier years, not only locally but globally, he’s not sure how long it’ll be available.
“We tried to make enough this year to get at least through a few month,” he says. “But it’s been out of stock for 10-and-a-half months, so it’s highly sought-after.”
In 2015 Four Pillars first soaked a bunch of shiraz grapes in its Rare Dry Gin. The grapes were then juiced and blended with gin to create a 37.8 per cent spirit. While it is an unconventional blend, Mackenzie says it makes sense. He explains that wine and gin are both about “aroma, flavour, balance, texture and weight” and local shiraz is an ideal match for their gin.
“When we did the trials with wine grapes, shiraz was the one we found had the flavour profile … that seems to really work with our gins,” MacKenzie says. “Yarra [Valley] Shiraz tends to be more about spice, red berries and plum, rather than that kind of bigger, warmer climate Shiraz.
“I’ve worked in wineries out here for 17 years. So most of my great mates are wine folk.”
The relationship between alcohol producers across products, he says, is exciting and something Four Pillars does regularly. Last year it supplied Hargreaves Hill brewery with a used gin barrel to mature one of its sour beers.
“We constantly get brewers in here, we get winemakers, and other distillers. It’s great to talk crossover collaborations.”
If you do get your hands on a bottle of Bloody Shiraz Gin, Mackenzie says it’s best served with a little ice, maybe a splash of soda or tonic, and a slice of lime. Because it still has a “big slug of gin flavour” it’s also great for cocktails.
At the Yarra Valley distillery the team uses it in a “cracker” of a cocktail called Bloody Jasmine, which is made with Campari, Curacao, and orange bitters.
It’s also a candidate for aging, Mackenzie says, with the young, fresh fruit mellowing over time to give more of a “dried fruit, Christmas cake character”. His advice for those curious to try it? “Be quick.”
Bloody Shiraz is available on the Four Pillars website, the Healesville distillery, and in bars and stores around Australia.
This article was updated on September 22, 2017.