Sometimes things happen and those things are unexpected. Like a couple of months ago I got myself involved in a cocktail making challenge with my old pal Katie Hughes (Katie’s Instagram). We had discussed the wonderful Martinez a few times in the past and had rehashed the chat whilst wandering about the Gin To My Tonic Festival in Glasgow in March this year.
It was at this time that I told her that I had been talking to one of the distillers on show the previous day who told me that his Old Tom gin had been designed specifically for this cocktail… That’s Extremely particular and almost entirely unusual that someone has “designed” their gin to perfectly fit one particular cocktail… So much so that I had to tell Katie and then, obviously buy it… As did she.
So anyway… We then decided to take it one step further and compete to show off the best and most delicious Martinez recipe.
We both made videos and had some fun with it… I’m fairly certain I won.
Anyway… What’s all this gibberish got to do with Manly Spirits Lilly Pilly??? I hear you shout… Well… Patience… I’m spinning a yarn.
Round about the time I made my video and declared my victory I received a DM from Manly Spirits (see what I mean? Patience… I was clearly getting to a point)… They asked for my email which I provided without question… Soon enough I received an email from them (no YOU spent the morning refreshing your email to see what they wanted). They were basically saying they had seen my Martinez video and liked the cut of my jib… Clearly nonsense and shenanigans put the wind in their sails!!!
They started to tell me about their new gin they had been planning a launch for but, because of the Covid, they were having to cancel the actual event. As a result of this they were now planning a virtual tasting which would include cocktail recipes and, more importantly, a chance to get a look inside the Manly Distillery and hear from the main man himself – David Whittaker.
They THEN told me that they would send out a bottle of the new gin for me to enjoy alongside the event. I, of course, was all over that. I love sampling gin but I also love hearing from the brands and a tutored tasting was right up my street… To say I was absolutely delighted would be an understatement.
Manly Spirits went from being a thought in the heads of founders David Whittaker and Vanessa Wilton to a reality in only about 18 months. The pair researched distilleries in Scotland, the UK, Europe and the US. They went on to seek experience from a distillery in Tasmania.
In April 2017 Manly Spirits Co. Distillery was born.
Manly seem to take great pride in producing a variety of spirits and producing them well.
The range includes (at the time of writing)…
- Australian Dry Gin
- Coastal Citrus Gin
- Barrel Aged Gin
- Lilly Pilly Pink Gin
- Marine Botanical Vodka
- Terra Firma Botanical Vodka
- Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur
- Zesty Limoncello
What might interest/confuse most of you is that the spirit I’m most intrigued to try is the Zesty Limoncello… I’ve loved limoncello since my first trip to Italy when I was about 18 or 19 which is not far off 20 years ago. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things so this guy is high high HIGH on my list!
Anyway… Manly use four custom designed copper pot stills which are named after thier four children…
Jordan – the youngest child and smallest still at 50L… This still is used to develop new expressions of white spirits as well as customised ones for trade customers.
Matthew and Harrison – named after their oldest and tallest son these stills come in at 100L and 150L and they produce the whisky.
Bella – named after their daughter is a 600L Holstein still which distills their signature gins and botanical vodkas.
In terms of the design of the brand and the look of the bottles… I’m sure David said during the live tasting that Vanessa had essentially had quite a big hand in the design of everything as she has a background in that type of thing… I might be wrong… Or she might be entirely responsible as opposed to just a hand in it!
Onto Lilly Pilly itself… It is, apparently, a much anticipated pink gin and has been created using botanicals and foraged flowers found on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. The botanicals used are listed below.
This is the fourth addition to the Manly coastal-influenced gin selection.
The vibrant colour comes from influencing fresh raspberries for about 18 hours and contains no added sugar. The idea here is that the gin should be balanced and not overly sweet and still juniper forward… But is it?
- Lilly Pilly
- Native Limes
- Blood Orange
- Rosella Flowers
- Sea Fig (pig’s face flowers)
- Nasturtium Flowers
ABV – 40%
Size – 70cl
RRP – £38.50
Website – https://manlyspirits.com.au/
Treat Yourself – Gin Kiosk
I think it’s really important that I preface this review with the fact that, generally speaking, I really don’t like so-called “pink gins”. They’re overly sweet, full of sugar and, in my humble opinion, created to cash in on a particular customer base within the gin business… Which is totally fine and understandable, however, not my cup of tea… I also think it’s worthy of note that I have tried this previously, however, I haven’t taken it through my full review tasting process… So, with all that in mind… Let’s get started…
On the nose it does feel like it might be quite sweet. The first thing I get from it is raspberry. A couple of swirls in the glass and it does reveal the juniper as well as allowing it to cling thickly to the glass. There’s a hint of peppery spice.
To taste neat theres the juniper… I’ve said it before… And I’ll say it again… When reviewing a gin thats coloured or flavoured or both it’s always such a huge relief when the juniper hits early. I then get notes from the lime with a little glimmer of raspberry – but nothing too heavy or overpowering… It’s light and fresh and not at all sugary and sweet. Theres an almost tartness to it… I can only attribute this to the fact that they use fresh raspberries as those are the flavour qualities I’d say fit with that. As the sip does away there is a note of spice lingering on the tongue which is extremely pleasant.
I then pop in some water and try it again… The juniper is more immediate on the nose this time and its accompanied by what I think might be the lime… Not the raspberry… Interesting little switch. Tasting it with the water and I’m enjoying the juniper, if course, and that lime is up front as well. The raspberry isn’t all that available to me here which is quite odd given how proud it was in the neat tasting. The spice still hangs about but, again, it is slightly dulled.
In fairness when tasting with the water I do often notice that things like the spice can reduce and the more citrus side of a gin comes forward… Why? No idea. It’s also something I expect to happen when I add tonic.
With the launch pack they included a couple of cocktails for us to try so… I did.
RECIPE – Pink Gin Sling:
45ml Manly Spirits Lilly Pilly Pink Gin
15ml Casoni 1814 (or Campari – I used Campari)
45ml Pineapple Juice
20ml Fresh Lime Juice
15ml Simple Syrup
Shake the whole gosh darned lot with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice.
Garnish with a mint sprig, lime wheel and a raspberry.
There’s a sweetness…
But then there’s the Campari…
A tropical loveliness from the pineapple
There’s a teeny tiny bit of sour coming through but also not really
I like it
RECIPE – Lilly Pilly Sour:
60ml Manly Spirits Lilly Pilly Pink Gin
30ml Fresh Lemon Juice
20ml Riberry Shrub (Cordial) or Simple Syrup (I used simple syrup)
15ml Egg White
Add everything to a shaker and dry shake.
Add ice and shake again.
Double strain into a lovely, aesthetically pleasing glass.
Garnish with edible flowers or fresh thyme.
Tart but it might be sour
Is there a difference?
Theres a vanilla-like quality but I have no idea why…
To summarise I ADORED Lilly Pilly which, given the fact its pink, I was quite surprised about… But then, at the same time, its Manly so there was also a confidence in my heart that this would be really good… And it was.
I’d urge you to put aside any pink gin prejudice you may have and give this a go as it is honestly wonderful… I’m fairly sad as mine is very very nearly finished but not to worry… It’s been fun while it lasted.
If you decide to take the plunge and go get yourself a bottle of Lilly Pilly this pay day (which is something you definitely should do) then remember to have a bash at using the discount code on Gin Kiosk (AKA the link above) – LILLYPILLYLIVE… Pretty sure it was saving you 10%… Might not still be live though… Or it might not be live for much longer!
I wanted to thank Boutique Bar Brands and Manly Spirits for sending me this bottle so I could take part in the virtual tasting… Loved the gin, loved the tasting… Long may they continue!
If you want to feel joy, fun and happiness and not the empty hearted sadness that only a nearly empty bottle of Lilly Pilly can bring then follow my social media… Its good fun… ***DISCLAIMER*** There may (will) be shenanigans
Till next month LAAAAAAAAAAADS….