Manly Spirits Co., like many Australian distilleries, to the point that it almost seems cliche, celebrates local Australian botanicals in their gin. But with such bountiful diversity— and many of them still unknown to gin drinkers, why wouldn’t they?
Coastal Citrus Gin embodies “three” types of ingredients that feature lemon flavor (two of which are named by Europeans for what they reminded them of back home).
Lemon myrtle(Backhousia citriodora) is a staple in Australian Gins. In fact, Lemon Myrtle is such a cost effective source of citrus flavor, that it’s even replacing lemon peel in citrus herbal teas. More unusual is the Lemon Aspen(Acronychia acidula). Similar to Myrtle, it’s rainforest plant that grows in Queensland rainforests. The plant’s small fruits are a traditional bush food said to have a “grapefruit and lime-like flavor [source].
Nose: Surprisingly herbal, with clear citrus notes and menthol/pine facets.
Flavor: Leafy green citrus early. The herbal facets dominate. Notes of dried lemon verbena, lemon myrtle tea, and fresh mint. Juniper sits back a bit, but is present throughout.
Finish: Moderate length finish. Surprisingly dry, mineral finish with hints of stone, seaweed and camphor. All the while, pine and juniper sits a bit back in the mix, but present throughout.
Manly Spirits Coastal Citrus Gin poses some challenges behind the bar. The strong herbal/citrus flavor, alongside with a stony minerality makes it at least a little less traditional. Bartenders should be advised to treat it like a specialty gin and design drinks around it.
That being said, it works well in a gin and tonic. I like pairing it with fresh citrus (Evans style) or with a citrus tonic water. Further, it pairs nicely with herbal liqueurs like Chartreuse in a Last Word.
Where it was less successful for me was in pairing with floral liqueurs. The Aviation is one where the violet and briny character don’t quite come together. The second combination I recommend avoiding is dessert drinks or drinks with cream like the Ramos Gin Fizz or Gin Alexander.
Overall, Coastal Citrus Gin
Fans of herbal or savory style contemporary gins will like what Manly Spirits Co. have done here. It’s imaginative, evocative and unusual.
Classic gin fans will enjoy the attention put into the juniper, albeit in a secondary role.
Overall, a gin doesn’t have to work in all cocktails to be a good gin. However, I think a good gin should have some balance. For all the fun and interesting things it does, it feels overly herbal and lacks some brightness you might expect from a citrus gin— or some spice counterpoints to round out the herbal notes.
People who like Coastal Citrus Gin will likely love it on its own or simply prepared.