Flash flooding forced Manly Spirits Co to cancel the official launch of its whisky brand ‘Coastal Stone’ last month, but the skies cleared – albeit briefly – last week for the distillery to debut the collection to media and trade.
Drinks Digest headed to the Brookvale distillery for the tasting, which included the newmake spirit and whisky expressions, a Q&A with founders David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton, and a tour with the distilling team.
“The whisky weather gods did put up a few barriers we had to overcome this month, yes we had staff cars parked inside our distillery bar area like a parking lot due to flood water submerging our parking/loading dock area but we were fortunate that any damage was reversable,” said Wilton.
Whittaker and Wilton (above) were warm, engaging hosts, with a passion for their product and obvious pride in being the first distillery on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The Coastal Stone – Element Series consists of five unique and distinct whisky styles from five different casks; sherry, pinot, bourbon, port and shiraz.
The casks – both American and French oak – were distilled and laid down more than four years ago. They were all ‘first fill’, having never had whisky in them before, providing an amazing richness in flavour.
The sherry and bourbon releases are a combination of two cask sizes 200L/225L and 100L producing a balance of
oak, sherry or buorbon, and Manly Spirits Distillery’s clean new make spirit.
The pinot, shiraz and port expressions were from 100L casks showcasing Australia’s rich history in wine production, resulting in robust flavours and complex whisky.
The Drinks Digest team’s favourites among the five were the pinot and port expressions. The pinot had a nose of cacao and ripe oranges with hints of macadamia and walnut, a light front palate with a subtly soaked brandy apple coming forward. These sweet fruits gave way to rich, velvety dark chocolate and toffee characters. The finish was soft, floral and nutty.
The port expression had a sweet vanilla nose, with a palate of sweet plums and a baked dark berry pie, with a soft caramel and buttery outlay, leading to an elegant but robust red currant essence and a long, bittersweet finish.
Coastal Stone’s packaging pays homage to the sandstone cliffs of the Northern Beaches and Sydney Harbour – a contemporary glass bottle, sculptured with the eroded textures of weathered cliffs and sealed with a sandstone stopper. The packaging was recently awarded ‘Best Bottle Design’ along with three Gold medals for new launch, limited release design at the ‘World Whisky Awards’ 2022.
“We didn’t think it was possible to be able to use real Sydney sandstone on the stopper – in fact, we were told it wasn’t possible,” said Wilton.
“But we’ve never shied away from a challenge here at Manly Spirits. Those finer details of the bottle design, stopper, label – it’s all important to us. So much time and thought goes into every aspect of creating the whisky, so it’s no different when it comes to designing the vessel it will be housed in.”
The very limited first release series celebrates a journey that started five years ago when Whittaker and Wilton decided to build their distillery.
Whittaker said: “It has been a true passion since my twenties to create whisky that embraces our home turf and uses techniques of fermenting well-learnt from our surrounding craft brewing industry. Adding a barrel selection policy mastered from the Scots with an Australian way of pushing tradition slightly aside we have been able to create a premium Australian whisky that reflects our artisan way of doing things.”
All Manly Spirits Co grain is grown and malted in Australia, with the new make spirit for Coastal Stone Whisky distilled at the Manly Spirits Distillery from grain to glass.
“Our fermentation is gentle and slow,” Whittaker said. “We mash Australian ale malt to extract the malt sugars which are then slowly converted by a blend of yeasts in slow fermentation over a minimum of five days.
“Our wash is double distilled in our uniquely designed copper pot stills to produce a clean, sweet, and malty new make spirit. The clean qualities are delivered by tall stills with upward sloping lyne arms and the spirit still onion which add additional reflux and spirit purity. In the final spirit run our distillers take a small foreshot cut and slow the still right down to further enhance the spirit for optimum barrel maturation.”
Coastal Stone is available directly from the distillery and selected retailers.
Categories: New releases