Soleras are awesome. Each year the youngest gin goes into the barrels at the top of the solera. Then the top ones are drained to the level below, and so on until the oldest barrel-aged gin comes out of the bottom row.
Chardonnay Barrel Solera
The older and bigger the system, the more profoundly aged the resultant fortified wine. And we decided that we want to create a similarly complex, barrel aged product with our original Barrel Aged Gin. So we set about creating a solera of ex-Chardonnay barrels in early 2014.
But we wanted this to be a modified solera system at Four Pillars, because (as with fortified wines) it is not always the case that older is better and it would be easy to over-age the gin. The art comes from blending the right combinations of the new with the old.
The difference between using old and new became obvious in February 2014 when we purchased a brand new barrique from Mercurey, one of the great coopers of France. Within a mere two weeks the gin in the new barrel had gained a golden colour and taken on some sweet vanillin oak characters. A terrific blending option, but we wanted our barrel-aged product to taste of gin, not wood.
In March 2014 we purchased three five-year-old former Chardonnay barriques from Dargue & Jaegle. D&J barrels are famous in the world of wine as the staves are steamed rather than toasted. Thus they lend very subtle, fine oak characters without overt toastiness.
So now we have nine barrels to choose from – some resting for almost a year, and the newer barrels were getting toastier by the minute…
Each solera release is a step up in character and intensity. Today with our newly christened Chardonnay Barrel Gin we’re onto Solera No_8, which has been in barrel for a whole twelve months. With every release since 2013 we see new characteristics and beautiful smooth nuances.
Sherry Cask Solera
Our Sherry cask solera is made up of 42 casks, some from Spain and some from one of our mates who makes famous Australian fortified wines, the artist formerly known as ‘Sherry’ and now known as Apera.
They’re much older than our Chardonnay barrels, varying in age from 15 to 35 years old. These casks were first filled in 2016, and our first solera release in 2018 was taken only from the bottom row of casks.
The casks are never emptied — a small portion from each cask is taken when blending a new release, and then replenished from the row above. Fresh gin is only ever put into the top row of casks, to create a traditional solera system. Our current release in Solera No_2, which is rich with fruit and nut characters.