Having a new distillery pretty much on your doorstep is a wonderful thing! As soon as we knew we weren’t risking certain death by turning up to a distillery under construction, we shot over the harbour bridge to check out Manly Spirits.
Locals David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton are the founders of Manly Spirits and what a set up they’ve created.
Vanessa comes from a marketing and design background (more on this later) while David’s experience as a chemical engineer serves him well at Manly Spirits. David had a close hand in the development of the distillery and even the still designs to ensure they were exactly what he was after.
A key addition to the team was Tim Stones, formerly Global Brand Ambassador (Beefeater) and distiller with Beefeater and Plymouth gins. It was interesting chatting with Tim and getting his thoughts on where his experience with some of the oldest gin companies in the world pairs with producing a new world gin on the northern beaches of Sydney.
Tim explained that getting used to working with new local botanicals was an interesting challenge. Rather than looking to create something completely new world, he’s taken the approach of pairing the new with the old. This comes through even in his preferred method of distillation, using a traditional one-shot process, where all of the botanicals go into the pot together.
Manly Spirits have 4 stills in total, 2 for their whisky and dark spirits production and 2 for white spirits production. In true craft distillery fashion, each still is named for one of their children. Jordan their small 50 litre still is used for experimentation and development, while Bella the larger 600 litre still is used for gin and botanical vodka production. We found the introduction of the botanical vodkas a really interesting addition. Essentially gin, without the juniper, we’re pretty sure they’ll have a strong appeal to a lot of gin drinkers out there.
Of course all of these fantastic spirits come packaged in some of the most stunning bottles we’ve seen to date. When your career has been in marketing and design, you’re never going to settle for an off the shelf bottle, but Vanessa has taken things to another level here.
The bottle design really captures the essence of the Northern Beaches here, from the lovely pale blue shade to the Eastern Blue Devil fish on the bottle and cap. This is one bottle you’re unlikely to be throwing in the bin once you inevitably finish this super gin!