Kirin Holdings’ beverage company Lion has acquired a 50% stake in Healesville-based distiller Four Pillars Gin.

Established in 2013 by Stuart Gregor, Cameron Mackenzie and Matt Jones, Four Pillars Gin sells its craft beverages to bars, retailers, restaurants and pubs across Australia.

Gregor said: “The partnership with Lion really is a ripper for us. It would not be untrue to say that more than a few organisations have shown an interest in us over the past 18 months and Lion just felt the best.

“We like their focus on craft, we like the fact we will be their first and most important craft spirits brand, and we like the fact that part of the deal is a slab of Furphy every month for the rest of our lives.

“We have a terrific relationship with the senior management at Lion and reckon this is the start of a really exciting new chapter for our business.”

“We like the fact we will be their first and most important craft spirits brand.”

Using Lion’s investment, Four Pillars Gin aims to become one of the world’s leading craft gin producers.

Lion is part of Kirin Holding’s subsidiary Lion Group and operates in Australia and New Zealand. Its portfolio includes brands such as James Squire and Malt Shovel, Little Creatures, Kosciuszko and Furphy.

Lion managing director James Brindley said: “The partnership with Four Pillars is really exciting for Lion, as we venture into new categories outside our core beer business.

“What Matt, Cam and Stu have done in creating Four Pillars in just over five years is nothing short of remarkable and we want them to keep their hands on the wheel, while we offer advice, counsel and assistance.”

Last September, Kirin announced its intent to sell it’s dairy products and beverages business unit in Australia as part of its strategic review process.

Called Lion-Dairy and Drinks (LDD), the business produces and distributes milk, dairy beverages, cheese, yoghurt, juice and soy.