The Manx Spirit Story
Like most good stories, ours begins with a battle…
In the 1960s it was illegal to distill alcohol on the Isle of Man, that was until Lucian Landau fought with the powers that be to have this law changed. Lucian won his battle and his first product, Kella Whisky, was born. Andrew Dixon (Andi) took over Kella Whisky in 1990, growing the business and selling the popular spirit all over the world. Until Andi was told to stop, following a long High Court Battle.
The stills at Sulby have been home to innovative distilling for 40 years, and we are just getting started.
With the long fought legal battle behind us, our ManX Manx spirit was born. Made from whisky, (but it’s not actually whisky). Andi brings their passion for great taste and dogged determination to create our signature Manx Spirit.
Our small, independent family team now has Becki and Alan at the helm who bring passion, vision, and the desire to produce exceptional spirits using innovative methods, to the business
Now here’s where it gets a bit technical….
Cask-matured spirits gain their characteristic qualities by being in contact with the charred wooden casks they are stored in for several years. During that time, the alcohol, which is a solvent, extracts compounds out of the burnt wood, into the spirit. These compounds have a boiling point higher than 100ᴼC. Lucian thought “If I carefully redistill matured, brown, spirit I can separate those compounds extracted by the alcohol from the burnt wooden cask, from those that are more volatile.”
We retain much of the esters and other floral components, while the non-volatile tar-like residue is discarded as it has an unpleasant taste and smell. We capture the benefits of aging without having to take along those flavours which detract from the overall experience.
We also do not add any artificial colouring because colourless alcohols are always colourless, whereas whiskies come out of each cask a different shade.
In 1994 we were granted a Patent for our unique process for enhancing the flavour of a spirit drink through redistillation, fractionation and recombination of a plurality of the fractions.
What this jargon means is that, much as a chef will intensify the flavours of a sauce by reducing it in order to drive off water, we can remove some of the neutral alcohol from the original starting spirit. We use this additional process in the making of ManX.
Once we had done this with ManX, we were inspired to innovate again after Andi discovered the most incredible Cognac made by André Petit. We tinkered with our test still and Bifrost was born. Having learnt the process of recombining the fractions to our taste with ManX, we applied the same skill to our Bifrost – which our taste testers tell us, we’ve got just right!
Here's a few questions we often get asked...
We know what we are good at, and like to keep doing it well.
The founder of the distillery and prolific inventor Lucian Landau, was asked to be an expert witness in a court case involving whisky production in Scotland. In preparing for the case, Lucian applied his analytical mind to the chemical processes involved in turning a colourless alcohol into a brown spirit that we all know and love in the form of whisky.
He noted that when alcohol is first made it is colourless. Putting it into a burnt wooden cask to mature – a process involving several different types of reactions, one notable step being the dissolving of compounds from the burnt wood into the alcoholic solvent – is what turns the whisky brown.
We found that removing certain compounds that are extracted into the spirit as it matures enhanced the experience of the drink. The results are flavoursome spirit drinks which embody the characteristic tastes and aromas of the original spirits, with a clean smoothness that sets our Manx Spirits apart.