Cape Byron Distillery, home of Australia’s beloved Brookie’s Byron Gin, is pioneering sustainable distilling in Australia. Imagine a paddock to pot gin distillery where the essence of the Australian rainforest imbues artisan gin with original Australian native botanicals and you’ve discovered Brookie’s Byron Bay Gin.
Cape Byron Distillery Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin
There’s a good reason why Cape Byron Distillery’s Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin won a Gold medal at the 2017 and 2018 San Francisco World Spirit Competition. It’s simply delicious! It all started at Cape Byron Distillery back in 2016. A Pozible fundraising campaign was started to launch the project by artisan distiller and co-founder Eddie Brook. Eddie is the son of Pam and Martin Brook, founder of leading macadamia and muesli product maker Brookfarm.
Nestled in verdant hills at the back of Byron Bay, the gin distillery overlooks bushland which supplies 18 of the 26 essential flavour ingredients for their distinctive gin. I’m talking Davidson Plums, finger limes, ginger, native raspberries, aniseed, cinnamon, myrtle and the fruit from lilly pilly trees which are known as riberries. Only eight ingredients are sourced off the property, but still in the local area.
I took a tour through the property’s lush rainforest grounds with Martin Brook. He showed us the trees where some of the botanicals are sourced and we wandered down to the creek on the edge of the grounds dodging rain puddles along the way.
Cape Byron Distillery has been certified by the B Corp Community, a global movement of organisations setting the benchmark for sustainable and ethical business practices. The title names industry leading environmental and community-focused businesses that have exceptional sustainability and business practices across a multitude of areas. B Corp is one of the most demanding certifications that evaluates a brands’ ethics, with a criteria of over 350 benchmarks concerning operations, employee treatment, community, and environmental impact
They are one of only two spirit distillers in Australia to achieve the distinction, which highlights the team’s commitment to conducting the highest standard of production and corporate social responsibility.
Some of the highlighting factors attributed to the success of the certification include an on-farm closed-loop distillation process where whisky wash and botanicals are mixed with mulch to create a nutrient-dense soil conditioner that is reused on the Davidson Plum orchard, diverting waste from landfill by utilising black soldier flies to consume organic waste, and implementing various waste diversion streams & energy
monitoring systems. Another milestone for the Distillery was a 30% decrease in landfill waste over the period of January 2019 to December 2021, from an average of 3.3kg per 100 bottles down to 2.1kg.
Brookie’s Byron Gin botanicals tour
The distillery is not only surrounded by sub-tropical rainforest that has been regenerated over the past 30 years, but also by macadamia plantations. These supply nuts for the Brookfarm range of muesli and health food products. The macadamias also find their way into the gin lending a distinctive and pleasant, buttery mouthfeel.
Taking a tour through the rainforest to see the plants that supply the flavours for the Cape Byron Distillery, is a special experience. It starts at the cellar door with a refreshing Brookie’s Gin cocktail. Then there’s the story of the distillers, the family, the farm and the art of distillation.
Martin Brook led my group of Le Cordon Bleu Master of Gastronomic Tourism Residential students on the rainforest tour. We walked down the steps along a gravel trail that snaked down to the forest floor and a creek swollen by recent rain. As we tramped on the path that led deep into a forest, Martin identified different trees and explained their uses with the enthusiasm of someone who loves what he does.
Walking through the rainforest we worked up a thirst and there was no better way to fix that than with a gin tasting. This was followed by a relax on the verandah overlooking the farm to watch the birds and enjoy the view.
Where is Cape Byron Distillery?
You’ll find Brookie’s Byron Gin at Cape Byron Distillery at 80 St Helena Rd, Mcleods Shoot, a 15-minute drive from Byron Bay.
Their Rainforest & Distillery tour takes about one hour and 45 minutes and costs from $20 to $40 per person. It includes a gin tasting. Tasting flights are available from $16 and can include a 15 minute guided tasting session.