Drinks News

Sun, sand and local spirits – how Manly Spirits Gin captures the Australian essence

We'll toast to that...

By Anna McCooe
Brought to you by Manly Spirits.
The long way from Manly to Freshwater Beach in Sydney used to be around the headland. Go past the QBC (Queenscliff Boardriders Club) Love Heart, through The Wormhole (a 50-meter tunnel, now blocked by rocks) and leap from rock shelf to rock shelf as wave riders paddle out. Along the way you might find Lilly Pilly hedging coastal gardens and Sea Fig in the sand dunes, Sea Lettuce in the rockpools and possibly Sea Parsley (more abundant up in Whale Beach). Feel the sea spay as waves tumble in. Hear the roar. Breathe it in. You can spend a lifetime trying to chase that feeling. And yet Manly Spirits Co. has bottled it, seizing the breezy spirit of sunrise swims and hazy afternoons, ready to be imbibed.
In April 2017, David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton opened Manly Spirits Co. Distillery in Sydney's Northern Beaches, inspired to craft premium spirits in celebration of the Australian coast. Next came a deep investigation into the science of distilling, and a collaboration with forager and chef, Elijah Holland who sustainably sources ingredients from above and below the ocean's surface. Nearly seven years on, the distillery has expanded with four copper stills, producing award-winning vodka, whiskies, and liqueurs, though gin is still at the core.
Unlike other spirits, the regulations defining gin are generous. It must be a neutral spirit flavoured predominantly by juniper. The rest is left in the hands – and palette – of the distiller, allowing for creative interpretations and hyper-local expressions of the bounty around them. For the team at Manly Spirits Co. that means experimenting with equipment and techniques and balancing foraged marine ingredients, Australian natives, and traditional botanicals with a pure, clean Australian grain spirit.
Drink the range of traditional, flavoured and barrel aged gins in a martini, on the rocks, with soda or with tonic or throw a premixed party pack in the esky for your next barbecue. As always on the Northern Beaches, these gins are best served chilled.

Australian Dry Gin

With a hefty Australian native and marine botanical bill – 10 in total – plus citrus and juniper distilled in a pure Australian wheat spirit, this complex stayer imparts an Australian twang to the classic dry London style. A Gold from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2023 is amongst a trophy room's worth of accolades.

Lilly Pilly Pink Gin

A gold for Contemporary Gin at the World Gin Awards in 2020 features in this pink gin's war chest of wins. The spirit gets its fruity blush from fresh raspberries and its subtle flavour profile from the berries of the Australian native Lilly Pilly and other edible pink flowers found in sand dunes along Sydney's Northern Beaches coastline.

“The Beaches” Gin

Set for summer splices, the limited edition "Gin-a-Colada" style gin embodies the balmy stretch from December to January in the Australian holidays. Expect a pine-lime backbone, and classic tropic flavours elevated by Rainforest Lime and Finger Lime.

Coastal Citrus Gin

Lemon Aspen and Sea Parsley take this fresh style gin into an eternal summer. Named best Australian Contemporary Gin at the World Gin Awards London 2019, this spirit is best enjoyed with a mediterranean style tonic, a twist of lemon and sprig of thyme and a beach view (real or imagined).
Brought to you by Manly Spirits. Shop the range at select bottle shops and here. Manly Spirits Distillery is open for tours, classes and make-your-own gin experiences or pop into the Distillery Tasting Bar, open four nights a week. For more information head here.