Manly Spirits gin comes, unsurprisingly, from Manly Beach in New South Wales. Owners David and Vanessa, first floated the idea of opening their own distillery in 2015 during a visit to Tasmania. David has a background in chemical engineering and Vanessa’s is in marketing and design (more on that later), so a pretty useful combination!
Two years later they welcomed Tim Stones (former Global Brand Ambassador for Beefeater Gin) as Head Distiller and Production Manager and launched their Pozible campaign. During his time at Beefeater, Tim learnt from Desmond Payne, (the longest-serving distiller in the world) and Sean Harrison, Master Distiller at Plymouth Gin as well as studying for his General Certificate in Distilling and completing hands-on training with the teams both in London and Scotland.
David and Vanessa are Manly locals with a deep connection to the area, in particular to the sea (both are keen swimmers, divers and surf lifesavers). The team approached established forager Elijah Holland (who worked with renowned chef René Redzepi at the Noma pop-up in Sydney last year) to assist in selecting botanicals for the gin.
Elijah recommended sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca) which clings to rocks and can be readily harvested at low tide (it’s the only seaweed that can be harvested freely, everything else has to be foraged under license).
Manly Spirits Gin Botanicals
Aside from the sea lettuce, Manly Spirits Gin contains; juniper, angelica root, coriander seed, orris root, orange peel, cardamom, finger lime, aniseed myrtle, and mountain pepper leaf. Tim says he found working with Australian botanicals challenging, but “inspiring”.
On the nose Manly Spirits gin has bright citrus notes, delicate pine aromas juniper and the merest hint of ozone. Tasting it, the citrus comes through as well as fresh pine. It has a savoury characteristic, not quite umami but getting there, and rounds out with a white peppery finish. Well balanced, delicious flavours and a good length, Manly Spirits Gin is a quality spirit that will serve you well in a variety of drinks.
How wonderful does this martini look? You’ll be pleased to know that it tasted just as good. A cracker in my opinion. Bright citrus flavours and aromas are drawn out by the vermouth and a good peppery finish.
Aside from being a delightful gin, I must mention the attention to detail that has gone into the packaging of Manly Spirits Gin. In an increasingly crowded gin market, standing out from the other brands on the shelf is as important as making a tasty liquid. Vanessa’s design skills are apparent in the custom-made bottle. The fibonacci sequence pattern gave her inspiration for the textured base and represents balance and perfection in nature, the blue glass is a nod to her connection to the sea and the eye-catching lid features the Eastern blue devil fish, the Manly Spirits emblem.
Manly Spirits Gin
You can also visit their cellar door.
The opening of Kilderkin Distillery in Ballarat restores the historical connection the town has with distilling. Warrenheip Distillery was based nearby from 1864. By 1894 it was the only distillery making whisky in Victoria. It continued to do so until just after World War One when production moved to the Corio Distillery in Geelong.
I recently visited Kilderkin distillery where I met the owners Chris Pratt and Scott Wilson-Browne as well as Scott’s partner Vanessa.
Chris, a psychologist by trade, and Scott, renowned craft brewer and the man behind Red Duck Brewery, met over their shared love of beer. Chris confided in me that he had a project to drink a different craft beer every day of the year, and he and Scott kept bumping in to each other over the years at different beer events. With Chris hailing from Scotland, the chat soon turned to making whisky and eventually, gin.
Why Kilderkin Distillery?
A kilderkin is a cask, usually 16 or 18 gallons. Chris and Scott thought the name suited their background in beer and their plans to make whisky.
The stills were made by Peter Bailley at Knapp Lewer in Tasmania. It was to Peter that Bill Lark first went when he wanted to open his distillery 25 years ago, requesting that they look as close to Macallan stills as possible. Knapp Lewer stills can also be found at Archie Rose, Shene Estate & Distillery and Stone Pine Distillery. Chris and Scott’s assisted with the design and included the option for the botanical basket to be removed, allowing greater flexibility.
Like a lot distilleries, Kilderkin have started out making gin. There are two Kilderkin distillery gins, ‘The Larrikin’ and ‘The Scoundrel’.
‘The Larrikin’ is a contemporary Australian gin made with native botanicals, including lemon myrtle. I find that lemon myrtle can often overwhelm gins (less is definitely more), but ‘The Larrikin’ is tasty and well-balanced. ‘The Scoundrel’ is a more traditional London dry style and a delicious one at that. There is also an aged gin that has been rested for three months in American oak bourbon barrels. They hope to have their whisky ready by 2019.
Kilderkin Distillery, 11A Michaels Drive, Alfredton Ballarat, VIC 3350.
Cellar Door open 10am-4pm Monday – Friday and 12-5pm on Saturdays.
You can follow them on Facebook.
Health food trends often spill over into the cocktail world. Matcha, beetroot, and cocktail oil (think Dave Kerr’s winning entry into the Bacardi Legacy competition, The Viento) are some trendy ingredients that have found their way into cocktails, I’ve even tried using Kombucha!
The Beach House cocktail is taken from Dan Jones book Gin: Muddle, Shake, Stir. He mixes gin with coconut water (another hyped up food trend) and lime juice to create a tropical gin cocktail that’s a worthy substitute for a gin and tonic. Tempted as I was to add an umbrella, I used one of my new bamboo straws instead!
Ingredients for a Beach House
15ml freshly squeezed lime juice
chilled coconut water
lime slice to garnish
Add the gin and lime juice to a highball glass and add crushed ice. Top up with chilled coconut water and stir. Add a slice of lime and serve.
Coconut water has plenty of claims that it has weight loss benefits, improves skin condition and offers superior hydration to plain old water, but most of this has been debunked. I still enjoy a glass as I like the taste and I figure it has to be healthier than cordial or fizzy drinks. Right?
Australian gin distillers have once again performed well against stiff global competition at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. I am so proud of our Australian gin distilling industry and the recognition they are receiving on the international stage.
The number of gins entered into the competition increased to 268 entries in 2017 from 197 in 2016 (not including flavoured or aged gins).
This year Australian gins won 2 Double Golds (up from 1 in 2016), 4 Golds (down from 7 in 2016), 11 Silver (same as 2016) and 8 Bronze (up 1 from 2016). That means a total of 26 medals (the same overall result as in 2016).
The state with the most medals was Victoria (7), followed by South Australia and New South Wales (6 each), Tasmania and Western Australia (3 ) and Queensland with one medal.
This is an amazing achievement for our fledgling industry. I can’t wait to see what they do in 2018.
Here are the results:
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL 2017 (Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges.)
The West Winds Broadside (WA)
23rd Street Distillery Gin (SA)
GOLD MEDAL 2017 (an excellent product, meeting very high standards)
Melbourne Gin Company Dry gin (VIC)
Poor Toms Gin (NSW)
Brookie’s gin (NSW)
Distillery Botanica Rather Royal Gin (NSW)
SILVER MEDAL 2016 (A finely crafted spirit, well above average.)
Applewood gin (SA)
Poltergeist True Spirit (TAS)
Archie Rose Signature Dry gin (NSW)
Four Pillars Navy Strength gin (VIC)
Bass & Flinders Monsoon gin (VIC)
Dobson’s gin (NSW)
Manly Spirits gin (NSW)
KIS O gin (SA)
Splendid gin (TAS)
Hippocampus gin (WA)
KIS Old Tom gin (SA)
Bronze (A well-crafted spirit that deserves recognition.)
The West Winds Captains Cut (WA)
Bass & Flinders Soft & Smooth gin (VIC)
Botanic Australis gin (QLD)
Four Pillars Modern Australian gin (VIC)
KIS Wild gin (SA)
Patient Wolf gin(VIC)
What is the San Francisco World Spirits Competition?
Launched in 2000, the San Francisco World Spirits Competition is considered the most respected and influential spirits competition in the world, with a rigorous judging process involving highly controlled blind-tastings with an expert panel who only receive information on spirit type, ABV and age (where applicable) to remove bias.
Hendrick’s gin has always been an advocate of the peculiar and unusual and their latest pop-up “The Awakening”, promises to pique your curiosity.
Described as a “theatrical cocktail experience”, The Awakening takes you on a journey through a series of scenarios and encounters brought to life by the Siren Theatre Company. At each stage you will receive a different Hendricks’ serve; a classic, a seasonal and an experimental.
This pop-up is only running for one weekend over the 2nd-4th June at the Commune in Sydney. Tickets are $30 per person and include 3 Hendrick’s cocktails and access to the Hendrick’s cocktail bar at the conclusion of your experience.
Win tickets to Hendrick’s Gin ~ The Awakening
I have ONE PAIR of tickets to give away to a lucky winner for Friday 2nd June at 7pm.
For your chance to win, simply complete the form below:
Competition closes at midnight 25th May. The winner will be drawn at random on Friday 26th May and notified by email.
- Winner must be in Sydney on Friday 2nd June at 7pm
- Tickets are non-transferable
- Over 18s only
- Please drink responsibly
Hendricks The Awakening runs from 2nd-4th June 2017 at COMMUNE, 901 Bourke Street
Waterloo, Sydney 2017.
Tickets are available from Eventbrite.
Red Hen Gin is made at the first urban distillery in Adelaide. Created by four school friends, Luke Page and brothers Michael, Anthony and Daniel Vallelonga, the gin is named after the train that they used to catch to school together.
The boys grew up in the gateway to the Barossa and they are all passionate about South Australian produce. The Vallelonga brothers have made their own wine with their Nonno (grandfather) from grapes they grew themselves, and together with Luke have also brewed beer as a fun side project. Since they began distilling they’ve uncovered some family connections with the booze industry in Australia. Both grandfathers were Publicans in Gawler, where they grew up, and Luke’s Great Aunt was the first woman to hold a Publican’s License in Australia.
It took the Red Hen team two and a half years to perfect their recipe while they battled through the council regulations and licensing requirements (a common theme that crops up regularly when chatting to distillers!). The time was obviously well spent with Red Hen Gin immediately winning a gold medal in the Contemporary Gin category at the 2017 Australian Distilled Spirit Awards, and it was also crowned Champion Small Batch Spirit in Australia!
Made from grape based spirit from the heart of the Barossa valley, Red Hen gin is 100% vapor-infused in a 100-litre still. There are 15 botanicals, including juniper, coriander, orris root, licorice root and cassia bark. Although the team wanted to created a London dry style gin they have used some native ingredients like Muntrie berries which are indigenous to the South Australian coast and give off a sweet crab apple flavour. The inclusion of fresh celery leaf offers a herbaceous peppery note.
Tasting Red Hen Gin
On the nose there are lime zest and sherbet aromas with fresh pine coming through from the juniper. Flavour-wise there is no mistaking Red Hen gin is citrus forward. There is a good juniper flavour and a subtle hint of apple. The finish is lengthy with a pleasant hit of white pepper cutting through the citrus.
Drinking Red Hen Gin
A good gin will work in a variety of drinks. Red Hen gin is excellent in a gin and tonic and I highly recommend it in a dry martini with Maidenii dry vermouth.
The team is planning to create a Navy Strength Gin next as well as a secret spiced rum. They are also collaborating with a local brewery to create the first locally distilled whisky.
I am thrilled to announce that I will be hosting an Australian Gin tasting event at celebrated gin venue The Oliver Conquest on Wednesday 7th June 2017.
The Oliver Conquest was firmly on my list of destinations when I last visited London two years ago, just look at its incredible selection!
I’m excited to be heading back to the UK to visit some distillers, taste some new (to me) gins and giving Olivier and Emile from Gin Foundry a hand at Junipalooza London.
Promoting the growing gin industry in Australia is a passion of mine, so naturally I wanted to fly the Aussie flag while on my travels.
During our two hours together, you’ll learn about the gin boom Down Under, the unique botanicals used in our gins, and taste these beauties:
Brookie’s gin from Cape Byron Distillery in Byron Bay New South Wales
Green Ant gin from Adelaide Hills Distillery in South Australia
Botanic Australis gin, Queensland
Artemis gin, Melbourne
Melbourne gin Company gin, Melbourne
Manly Spirits gin, Manly, New South Wales
Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz gin, Victoria
Tickets are 20GDP and include all tastings and nibbles. Can’t wait to see you there!
(over 18s only)
Do you have a gin-loving Mumma?Are you organised for Mother’s Day yet? I’ve put together some top gin gifts for mum. And yes, some are COMPLETELY OVER THE TOP, but hey this woman gave birth to you!
No one knows cocktails like Simon Difford and in this compendium of quirky happenings, anniversaries, birthdays and traditional events he has paired each one with an appropriate cocktail. You can celebrate everything from Mandela’s inauguration to aliens’ alleged arrival from outer space.
$22.90 from Booktopia*
Some of the best cocktails are the simplest (think of a Negroni). Kara Newman has collected 50 equal parts drinks in her book Shake, Stir, Sip.
$18.75 from Booktopia*
It’s 12 o’clock somewhere in the world – so celebrates Aliita’s playful Martini necklace. Made from 9ct gold, it has a small emerald “olive” for glittering finish. Stunning!
$390 from mytheresa.com
Functional AND stylish, Cynthia Rowley’s flask bracelet holds approximately 90ml of booze. Also available in gold.
$225 (USD) from Cynthia Rowley
Tatty Devine’s celebrated Gilbert and George Gin necklace is perfect for the gin-lover in your life.
$45.00 from The Gin Queen
The obvious benefit of the Tatty Devine Gilbert and George gin brooch is that it will assist those around your mum to easily identify her tipple of choice. Handy!
$15 from The Gin Queen
Ralph Lauren Preston Cocktail shaker
This cocktail shaker would make a stylish addition to any home bar!
$169 from David Jones
Silver Monkey Straw
Sip in style with this cheeky monkey sterling silver straw from Tiffany. Super indulgent, but so gorgeous!
Waterford Crystal Martini Glasses
You can’t go wrong with glassware as a gift and while I enjoy scouring flea markets and op shops for mine, there is something wonderful about splashing out on divine martini glasses.
Marquis Crosby Barware Martini Pair $140 (pair), from David Jones
Patient Wolf Gin
Melbourne’s newest gin is made in the heart of Brunswick on a gorgeous Muller still. Featuring Tonka bean as one of the botanicals, this is a tasty drop that mum will love!
$ 700ml $89.99 from Nicks Wine Merchants
Red Hen Gin
Red Hen Gin comes from the heart of Adelaide (the CBD!) and recently took our Gold in the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards AND Champion Small Batch Spirit.
$79.95 (700ml)from Red Hen Gin
Lubin Gin Fizz
Created in honour of Grace Kelly’s extraordinary beauty, and named after the cocktail inspired by the “American bars of Paris”, Gin Fizz is a fresh and flowery chypre with lemony top notes over an aldehyde and musky base.
$269.00 AUD (Eau de Toilette 100ml, available at David Jones)
All of the products listed above have been chosen by me because I think your mums would love them and not because I’m been paid to promote them. With the exception of items marked * which are affiliate links. You are not charged extra, but I receive a small commission on sales.
I passed a little social media milestone this week and I have 10,000 reasons to be happy 🙂
To celebrate I’ve created a little competition where you could win one of 3 Gin and Tonic Packs. The packs are:
- Star of Bombay Gin with Strangelove Light and Dirty Tonic
- Hendricks Gin HotHouse gift set with Strangelove Light and Dirty Tonic
- Poltergeist Unfiltered Gin with Strangelove Light and Dirty Tonic
THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED
Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and sharing the Gin Queen love!
Terms & Conditions
Entrants must be over 18
Open to UK, Australian and NZ residents only
One entry per applicant
Closing date is midnight (AEST) on 1st May 2017
Winner will be drawn at random and notified via email within 24 hours
Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and sharing the Gin Queen love!
A few weeks ago, Victor Fraile, one of the founders of Santamanía Urban Distillery in Madrid visited Melbourne to talk all things gin and discuss the latest addition to the range, Lola y Vera. I was fortunate enough to get the chance to interview him and find out more about Spain’s first urban distillery.
So it’s almost three years since Santamanía opened, how long did it take you to get to that point?
We started almost three and a half years beforehand, just developing recipes, doing paperwork, deciding whether or not to leave our jobs, and trying to convince our wives!
Ramon and Javier, who are the other two partners, were both working for a telecommunications company, and although I’m an agriculture engineer, at the time I was working in documentary production. In our spare time we started talking about distilling Javier challenged us by saying, “Do we have the balls to do this,” and, we thought, “Why not? Okay, why not?
We started making out own still in a small room in Javier’s house, and for three years we spend most of the weekends there, to the annoyance of our family, of course. In the end they said, “Look, if you are going to spend money, spend it on something profitable.” So from dark moonshiners, we came to the light and founded Santamanía Distillery.
How hard was it to open the first urban distillery in Spain?
Distillation in Spain had a long history. Traditionally, in the village people used the remaining grape harvest to make eau-de-vie, and make what we call it aguardiente. Most of the gin distilleries in Spain are on an industrial scale, small ones didn’t exist. We were the first and now there are three. But we are the only one in Madrid.
It was essentially three years of paperwork. Sanitary and industrial procedures and having to go through the three administrations (local town, state and federal) and repeat all of the same processes. I’ll tell you honestly, it was the part of the process that made us almost give up. We thought, “Look, this is not worth it.” But, we kept going even though we were talking with people who didn’t really care, who just wanted to say, ” Yes, no, yes, no.” and tick the right box.
Did you have the recipe ready to go?
Yeah, by that time we had come up with 36 drinkable formulas.
Yeah, 36 that you could drink straight-away. There were, I wouldn’t say thousands, but there were hundreds and some truly terrible things!
What was the most challenging thing about making the gin?
From the technical point of view, I think it was teaching ourselves. This kind of project wouldn’t have happened without the internet! Talking with friends like Cam from Four Pillars was great as we had the same still and were trying to figure it out at the same time.
I do remember having problems getting the right flavour from the juniper, because we weren’t using the right one at the beginning. For a month or so we didn’t know what was happening. We eventually came up with a solution, but it was all trial and error.
Another issue was deciding the right ABV for our gin. From an economical point of view, we thought we’d stick with 37.5% as we’d pay less tax. Went sent a bottle to Emile and Olivier at Gin Foundry and they wrote a fantastic article saying “This is wonderful. This is a great job these guys from Spain are doing, but, we couldn’t call it premium because it is 37.5.” In Spain we have no problem with that, because we just pour and pour and pour. It doesn’t matter. But, in England it matters. So we changed it to 41% straightway, even though it meant changing the bottle.
Did you always plan to use grape-based spirit?
When we were researching we saw that cereal (wheat or barley) was the most common, but we thought “Why?”. In Spain, we’ve been distilling from grapes since … forever. It’s far more expensive than the traditional base. Using Tempranillo was an obvious choice as it’s a very well-known grape in Spain. All the great wines come from Tempranillo.
Are your botanicals from Spain?
Most of them are. We tested several different juniper, and finally went with a Macedonian grower, a really nice person, also called Victor, whom we love. Our coriander, cardamom, angelica and orris root are all imported but everything else we source locally.
How did you come up with the design for the bottle?
I think that the bottle reflects the name, you know, “Santamanía.” It’s difficult to explain in English. Think about when you are a child, and your mother is showing you how to do something and saying, “No, do it just like this,” and then you keep doing the things in your own way, you mother used to say, “You have the Santamanía to do this in your way.” It’s like saying, “your bloody stubborn to do it this way”.
The bottle illustrates the mania of those three years. It’s a listing of the things that happened around all those three years, the music we were listening to, the name of our kids, our names, the names of our wives. Many things, most that only we understand.
Santamanía is known as Madrid Dry gin?
From a production point of view it’s a London Dry gin but in Spain nobody bloody knows what London Dry means. At Santamanía, all our merchandize and our publicity in Spain, is saying say, “Oh, we are Spanish, we are doing this from grape.” And, the people say, “If you are so Spanish, why does it say ‘London Dry?’
No-one knows there that if you are doing a London Dry Gin, that there are laws around production. So, we thought, “Okay, we changing to Madrid Dry Gin”. The thing is that now Madrid Dry gin is only in Australia and Japan, everywhere else gets London Dry gin, so maybe we’ll change it back!
How long after you launched did you decide to experiment with barrel ageing?
We did that one straight-away. Reserva is pretty much the in same formula that the original, but instead of lime, we use orange, and we don’t use rosemary. It goes into 4-year-old French oak barrels for 3-6 months. Judging by the response, we seemed to get lucky with it first time out.
Tell me about Lola y Vera
Santamanía is a premium gin in Spain, and as such is much more expensive than most of the industrial gins, so we needed something more accessible to everyone. Instead of using grape based spirit we are using traditional wheat based spirit. We macerate the spirit with green apple mash and this apple-infused spirit is then distilled with the other botanicals. The type of apples we use will vary due to the season. We’ve called it Lola and Vera after our two stills.
You’ve now got two stills?
Yes!. To keep up with demand! Lola, who came later, is much bigger. We can get around 1800 bottles every time. We could get only get 250 from Vera, and that was pushing it! Now Vera is more for small batches, and experimentations with restaurants or businesses.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The best thing is it is not a job. What’s the difference between work and leisure? If the necessity is not what really drives you to do what you are doing, it is more leisure than work. At the end of the day you have to eat and you have to pay your bills. But, if you are doing something that drives you out of the bed every morning happy, it’s hardly work!
Here I am in Australia talking about gin. I’m not sweating. I’m not digging. I’m talking about something I really love. It’s great.
What’s your favourite gin cocktail?
I like dry gin martini. A nice, well-measured gin tonic with Santamanía is good too!
What are your favourite bars in the world?
I don’t have specific bars. I mean, my favourite bar experience is Japan. It’s not just the drink, it’s the service. I like some English pubs for their atmosphere.
What are your plans next? What’s next?
What’s coming for Santamanía? I can’t give too many details, but we are trying to make something based on the same formula, but maybe with more strength.
A Navy Strength?
Navy-Strength might be too much for the Spanish market, but going over 41%? Yes!
My thanks to Victor and Bibendum for setting up this interview.
Santamanía gins are available in Australia through Bibendum.