Spirits & Wine

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery

Sydney’s Northern Beaches is about to get its first craft distillery with the impending opening of Manly Spirits Co. Distillery.

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery
David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery

Located in Brookvale, the distillery is founded by Manly Beach locals, David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton, combining their backgrounds in chemical engineering and creative design respectively to bring innovation and passion for craft spirits with a Northern Beaches coastal influence.

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery
Tim Stones

Former Beefeater and Plymouth Gin distiller Tim Stones has joined the team as Head Distiller and Production Manager and brings over two decades of experience in the global drinks market. Chef and foraging expert Elijah Holland (ex Noma pop up in Sydney) has come on board as On Premise Advisory / Forager sourcing sustainable marine and Australian native botanicals for white spirits.

Mere days before its scheduled opening date on May 3rd, the excitement is palpable, a project of passion and dedication that has gone from concept to delivery in under 18 months.

As its name suggests, Manly Spirits Co. is a spirits distillery, without a singular focus on a particular spirit. Production of Gin and Botanical Vodka is underway with White Dog and whisky to follow.

Gin Production

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery
Gin and White Spirits Still

The distillery is divided into three sections, the bar near the entrance, the white spirits still, and the whisky production side. Two Holstein stills are dedicated to the production of white spirits. The stills are named after David and Vanessa’s children. Bella is a 600 litre Holstein copper pot still used for the production of gin and botanical vodka and Jordan is a 50 litre copper pot still hybrid used for testing purposes.

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery
Gin Botanicals

The gin is distilled using the one shot distillation method that takes approximately 5 hours. An Australian wheat-based neutral grain spirit forms the base. “We wanted a neutral canvas to make the botanicals shine,” Vanessa explains. The flagship gin, Manly Spirits Australian Dry Gin (43% BV) contains juniper, coriander, orris root, angelica, cardamom, orange peel, anise myrtle, Tasmanian pepperleaf, finger lime and sea lettuce for a marine element. The gin is juniper-forward with bright citrus notes upfront, mainly of orange, followed by warm spice heat from the cinnamon and pepper.

Botanical Vodka

Manly Spirits Co.will be launching with two Botanical Vodkas, Marine and Terra Firma. These are far removed from flavoured vodkas with their artificial flavourings and it best to think of them as a new category.

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery
Manly Spirits

The idea for Botanical Vodka came from forager Elijah Holland. The vodkas are distilled in the same method as the gin, using neutral grain spirit as a base. Botanical Vodka Terra Firma (41.6%) contains roasted wattleseed, cardamom and orange peel, and was created with espresso martinis in mind. It’s deliciously nutty with a creamy mouthfeel followed by lingering cardamom on the finish. Botanical Vodka Marine (41.6%) contains sea parsley and sea cast kelp. Funky, savoury and salty, it’s simply an umami explosion on the palate.

Whisky & White Dog

While the white spirits will go under the label of Manly Spirits, the dark spirits will be under the umbrella of North Fort, a historical part of Sydney located at North Head. North Fort ‘White Dog’ Malt Spirit will be the first to be made available. The spirit is a new make single malt distillate that has been refined by a narrower cut of the spirit, with less congeners to make it more palatable. 

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery

Whisky production will soon begin and at the time of the visit, the distillery was in possession of pilsner and ale barley that were to undergo trials for fermentation. Taking craft beer as inspiration, David Whittaker holds a strong belief that good beer yields good whisky and with the right type of yeast, the end product will reflect the quality.

And is the wont of distillers, Tim Stones has christened the mash lauter tun, Taylor, after Taylor Lautner.

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery
L-R: Wash Still and Spirit Still

80% of the whisky production will mirror the Scottish style. Double pot stills are also named after the other two children, Matthew for the wash still Harrison for and spirit still. The wash still is modelled after that of Kilchoman in Islay and Kilkerran in Campbelltown, tall and upward sloping which gives more reflux and a cleaner spirit. David Whittaker designed the condenser and holds an innovation patent for its design.

The main whisky expression will be aged in ex bourbon casks then finished in wine casks, or a straight red wine cask finish. It is yet to be decided. Other cask finishes will include port, sherry, bourbon and new American oak. Plans are also underway for single barrel releases including small batch American style whiskies like Koval and Millet.

The Bar

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery

A self-contained bar space (still in progress) with coastal banding such as surfboards will afford a full view of the stills from the window. You could even catch a glimpse of Distiller Tim Stones at work. The bar will operate Thursday to Sunday serving Manly Distillery spirits and cocktails to showcase the botanicals as well as local craft beer and wine from a local winery. The bar and adjoining area with their coastal branding can be hired out for events and private functions.

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery

Manly Spirits Co. opens to the public on 3rd May 2017 and is listed in the Australian Distillery Directory.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

Manly Spirits Co. Distillery
4A/9-13 Winbourne Rd
Brookvale, Sydney NSW 2100


This article is posted on Gourmantic.com - All rights reserved - Copyright © 2018.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.