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#003 : Matt Jones @ Four Pillars Gin

In the third of our Overdose & Chill live Instagram interviews, we talk to Matt Jones, Co-Founder of Four Pillars, about the company’s journey, their modern Australian product, market challenges, and how they maximize their consumer experience.

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Four Pillars

#003 : Four Pillars Gin was born in 2013 when three friends and wine industry veterans decided to embark on their next adventure producing gin. Six years later, Four Pillars was named by the IWSC in London as the world’s leading gin producer. Four Pillars prides itself on being a modern Australian maker who produces awarded and unique craft gins right here in Australia. The brand is centered on combining intense creativity around gin with a huge passion for hospitality and fun.

The Beginning

Three friends – Matt, Stu, and Cameron – with backgrounds in public relations and brand marketing were aware of the growing overseas craft alcohol scene and wondered how they could go about making an Australian craft gin.  This resulted in a USA fact-finding road trip to check out craft gin distilleries and to learn about the processes, the products, and the possibilities.

Once they had returned to Australia, they ordered a CARL copper still from Germany, sourced ingredients, and used crowdfunding platform “Pozible” to raise enough capital to allow them to make their first-ever batch of Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin.

The Product

The friends decided that they wanted to create a quality gin that “embodied modern Australia,” which Matt considers to be “the best tasting country on earth!” Seeking to integrate Mediterranean citrus and Asian spice with traditional botanicals, the team sourced Tasmanian pepperberry leaf, Australian lemon myrtle, and native citrus fruits to combine with the very best juniper from Macedonia and Kosovo.

The packaging was deliberately designed to ensure that each product exuded class, quality, and attention to detail; from the shape of the bottle to the label, and (of course), to the gin within.  This initial investment has allowed the Four Pillars classic design to become recognisable in its own right and to stand the test of time.

Since the launch and award-winning success of that first product, Four Pillars has continued to develop different gins, and its portfolio now includes barrel-aged gins, navy strength gins, a Christmas gin, and the ever-popular Bloody Shiraz Gin, which tastes great on its own or with lemon tonic water.

The Market

The Four Pillar Team decided at an early stage to place their gin at a premium price point.  They believed people were “looking to drink well at home,” and thankfully, they were right.  It seems they managed to break a significant psychological barrier, as it is now not unusual for gin connoisseurs to pay $70 – $100 for a quality craft product that can be savored and enjoyed in the comfort of their own home, or alternatively, to pay a premium price for the same product from a cocktail bar menu.

The brand sells its full product range directly from its laboratory retail shops and an online store. The team has learned over time some of their more niche products – such as their barrel-aged gins – are less suitable for the mainstream market, so their best selling gins only are available via other international outlets.

Consumer experience

The Four Pillars partners had the wisdom and business experience to realise the importance of nurturing customer relationships right from the beginning and made those very first crowd-funding customers members of the “Batch No 1 Club.”  To this day, those same customers are given first access to new products.

Since then, the company has increased its relationship-building by introducing gin-making and gin-tasting experiences at their distillery in the Yarra Valley and most recently at their new “Four Pillars Laboratory” in Surry Hills, Sydney.

The brand’s passion for innovation and the experiences of its consumers will provide valuable and consistent sources of compelling storytelling for its digital platforms, which are designed to allow its diverse target market to easily discover, learn about, and engage with the brand, ensuring they know exactly what they want before they add a Four Pillar product to their basket.

The Future

When asked if tempted to move away from the craft concept to concentrate on increasing the volume of successful products,  Matt emphasized “craft is not defined by scale,” and the team has great clarity around their brand success strategy.  He believes Four Pillars will continue to blend the philosophy of “quality first” with the exploration of new frontiers, and he is keen to take the original products to new customers and become the biggest craft gin provider in Australia.

Four Pillars aims to be the best by “doing more and better.” The accolade of International Gin Producer of the Year 2019, awarded by the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC), has inspired Matt, Stu, and Cameron to continue their “crazy ride” for some time to come.

Overdose x Four Pillars

Four Pillars Gin partnered with Overdose to design and build a bespoke, ‘headless commerce’ system utilizing a BigCommerce backend and a WordPress frontend. We were tasked with integrating with their retail POS systems and overcoming the unique challenge of using distillery-specific software to manage their accounts.

Four Pillars requires a rich, content-led experience for its users, with customizable, content-heavy product pages. These features allow Four Pillars to continue to enhance the user experience by offering relevant content including recipes, stories, videos, and botanical information throughout different pages to keep the experience fresh for their loyal gin fans.