Sustainability is in the Roots of Cape Byron Distillery

Cape Byron Distillery, NSW

This NSW distiller makes gin and whisky surrounded by regenerated rainforest, macadamia trees and a koala sanctuary.

“Sustainability is in our roots,” says Eddie Brook, co-founder of Cape Byron Distillery, a whisky and gin operation he runs from his family’s 40-hectare idyll in NSW’s Byron hinterland.

Eddie Brook

He’s not being glib (although it’s not bad as a tagline for the gin he creates using native botanicals foraged from the scrub). “Mum and Dad were dormant hippies,” he says. “When they bought the property in 1988, it was desolate from decades of dairy farming.” After getting involved in the local Landcare movement, Pam and Martin Brook set about planting 4500 macadamia trees and some 35,000 rainforest plants. “The education I got growing up here was all about being a caretaker of the land first and foremost,” says Eddie.

These days, the property is an established sub-tropical rainforest and koala-breeding sanctuary, teeming with echidnas, wallabies and 24 native bird species. Black soldier flies are used to consume organic waste, diverting it from landfill, and a soon-to-commence solar project will see the farm operate off-grid for its electricity needs. The outfit’s closed-loop distillation process mixes whisky wash and botanicals with mulch to create a nutrient-dense soil conditioner, which in turn fertilises the Davidson plum orchard. “Those plums are then used in our Brookie’s Slow Gin,” says Eddie.

It’s this full-circle approach to sustainable business that last year landed Cape Byron a coveted B-Corp certification – something only two distillers in the country have achieved. Now though, says Eddie, advocacy has become the mission. “Our major goal is to show people that regeneration doesn’t take a lifetime. We have these giant blue fig pioneer trees that look like they’ve been here for hundreds of years. I stand next to one and it’s only as old as I am. We’re proof that we can drastically change the environment in just 30-odd years. When people realise that, something clicks.”

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