• Richard Bradbury

By George! Great gin awaits.

Explore award-winning gin at Byron Bay’s local distiller.

The seeds of Cape Byron Distillery were born back in 1988, when Pam and Martin Brook took over a rundown dairy farm and planted 4500 macadamia trees. The land is smack bang in the heart of what used to be the ‘Big Scrub’, the largest subtropical rainforest in Australia, of which only the tiniest fraction (around one percent) remains today.

The Brook family embarked on an enormous regeneration project, planting a whopping 35,000 subtropical rainforest trees and transforming open paddocks into a landscape that is now home to over 30 bird species, four resident koalas and a family of palm-sized sugar gliders.

Inspired by this amazing, regenerated rainforest, their son Eddie Brook along with co-founder Jim McEwan launched Brookies Byron Dry Gin in 2016, showcasing 25 botanicals, 17 of which are native ingredients, including aniseed myrtle, native finger lime and cinnamon myrtle, many of which are grown on the property. The result? Cape Byron Distillery and an award-winning modern twist on a classic dry gin.

Overlooking the rainforest, the balcony at the distillery is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with friends and family. Nestled among the forest at the end of a long sloping drive, the rustic corrugated iron building blends into the landscape. It’s an easy 15-minute drive from central Byron Bay. Parking is limited, so it’s best to arrange an Uber or share a taxi with your group.

“We operate tours rain or shine, so dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear. And don’t worry, we have umbrellas available for those rainy days!” explains Mel Olson, Cellar Door Manager.

One of the first team members you will meet on your arrival at Cape Byron Distillery is George. No, he’s not the owner, but he definitely works here. George is the nickname for the enormous 2000 litre copper pot still that takes pride of place on the production floor.

There are a range of tastings and tours that you can experience on your visit to Cape Byron Distillery, so whether you want to explore the gin making story, enjoy a guided tasting or simply relax with friends, cocktail in hand, there is something for everyone.

The most popular option is the Rainforest and Distillery Tour. Your friendly host will greet you with a classic G&T garnished with finger lime and aniseed myrtle. Then it’s off for a tour of the family farm to see, smell and touch the native rainforest botanicals used to make your gin, followed by a tour of the distillery and a journey through the art of distillation.

Another option for those who really love their gin is the Guided Tasting Session. A Brookie’s gin expert will knowledgeably guide you through a sample flight of Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin, Slow Gin, and Mac. Liqueur.

“If you want to explore further, you can arrange to taste more of our range,” explains Mel. “Try a sample of Shirl the Pearl, named after Eddie Brook’s grandmother Shirley and based on her bootleg recipe for cumquat gin. It has a zesty character - just like Shirley - and orange blossom flavours. It’s amazing!”

Brookie’s recently partnered with local brewers Stone & Wood to produce a limited release Pacific Moonshine distilled from their Pacific Ale. And, for a taste of the future, you can sample Brookie’s New Make Spirit, the base for the upcoming Brookie’s Whisky, to be released in 2022.

Or you might decide that the ultimate start to an evening is to have Brookie’s outrageously talented cocktail makers designing elaborate and delicious drinks, to enjoy while looking out from the deck. Group bookings for a Brookie’s Cocktail Session are always welcome.

If you’re part of a group but gin isn’t your thing, Mel explains that you are more than welcome at the distillery. “We take every non-gin drinker as a challenge! We have our Native Plum Gin Spritz with mint and strawberry and the Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin & Tonic with finger lime, which is so refreshing on a hot day.”

Tours, tastings, and cocktails are currently by appointment only. For further details and bookings visit capebyrondistillery.com or call on 02 6684 7961.


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