Placed in the heart of a family farm, Cape Byron Distillery sits amongst the orchards and rainforest. This Byron Bay distillery crafts innovative spirits with regeneration of the environment at its core.
A match made in heaven
30 years ago in the depths of the Byron Bay hinterlands, the Brook family purchased a property which used to be an old dairy farm. Soon after, what was ex-farmland became a bit of a regeneration project. Replanting around 35,000 rainforest trees and resultantly forming a flourishing oasis for wildlife, Brookfarm – with an awesome view all the way down to the iconic lighthouse – has certainly done its part to care for the environment.
Within the Brook Family’s 96 acre farm, you will find Cape Byron Brewery. And what better setting for it. Meeting Jim McEwan in 2014 – master distiller of Bruichladdich of Scotland – Eddie Brook discovered a converging of interests when it came to the pair’s mutual passion for the land and sustainable distilling practices. Discussing his own knowledge about native Australian plants and sustainability, Eddie also shared with Jim the extent of his family’s passion for environmental generation. Unsurprisingly, not long after their meeting the pair came up with the idea for Cape Byron Distillery. Oozing with passion for native flavours and sustainability, Cape Byron Distillery is today owned and run by the Brook Family & Jim McEwan.
The rainforest in a bottle
Cape Byron Distillery does as much as it can to capture the best flavours of the rainforest. This starts with a whole load of gorgeous botanicals snatched right from the forests around the property. To give you an idea, out of the 25 botanicals in Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin, 17 are sourced from the landscape encapsulating the distillery. The distillery truly showcases that there’s no better place to source your ingredients than from your own backyard.
A wonderful array of edible native botanicals such as the native Jerseyana variety of Davisonia Plum – which steals the show in the distillery’s Slow Gin – as well as Native Ginger, Aniseed Myrtle & Cinnamon, spoil the tastebuds of visitors all year round. At Cape Byron Distillery, it’s all about showcasing the very stuff which sprouts from the landscapes of the Northern Rivers. High-quality concoctions of exquisite and unique flavours is the game here. Bottles of aromatic gins, fragrant liquors and more recently, a somewhat traditional Scottish-inspired whisky await you in the hinterland.
Regeneration and environmental efforts
With the Cape Byron Distillery business relying on the diversity and health of the rainforest, the owners recognise the importance of conservation efforts and regeneration of the environment. After all, much like much of the world’s rainforests, this one is also under threat.
Byron Bay’s luscious green hinterland and thriving ecosystem was formed after a volcanic eruption which covered the soils with magma millions of years ago. Upon this material, over many years a large subtropical rainforest began to thrive. This rainforest is called the Big Scrub. Unfortunately, European settlement resulted in the eradication and degradation of rainforest landscapes, with only one percent remaining today.
Cape Byron Distillery’s efforts in sustainability are not only seen in showcasing the value of the rainforest through the use of gorgeous native flavours in their beverages. Supporting Big Scrub Landcare, the distillery helps to preserve the remains of the rainforest and talks with other landowners regarding planting more native trees in the region. Planting around 35,000 thousand trees themselves, the Brook family set a good example for others in the region. However, another great example of their work surrounding environmental regeneration is fabricated in the realm of education.
Not only are guests to the cellar door here able to embark on a tour of the distillery and enjoy the tastes of the rainforest in their glasses, but there is also possibility to explore the rainforest with a guide. Guided tours, involving a wander through the rainforest, allows for visitors to soak up the divinely green environment and learn a little about what goes into the products on the shelves. Teaching guests a little about the history of the Big Scrub, Cape Byron Distillery hopes to instil a little bit of love for the rainforest in their guests.
So, if you’re looking for an experience like no other in Byron Bay, head here. Leave with not only a slight giggle from your gin cocktail, but some motivation to think local (as close as your backyard), and some vital knowledge regarding the importance of Australia’s rainforests. With the distillery winning the ‘Sustainable Distillery of the Year’ award in 2020 at Icons of Gin in London, conscious consumers can be sure they’re putting their money where their mouths are here.
Address: 80 St Helena Rd, McLeods Shoot NSW 2479
Friday | 3.30-6pm
Saturday – Sunday | 10.45am-6pm