Better Together: Eddie Brook
Eddie Brook’s commitment to the land that their distillery is built on is clear as soon as you meet him. From humble beginnings as a run-down dairy farm, Cape Byron Distillery has been transformed into one of the most impressive distilleries we’ve seen, set in the heart of their macadamia farm and surrounded by subtropical rainforest. Read more about why the distillery operates the way they do and what makes Brookie’s and CAPI better together.
Would you mind giving a short introduction of yourself for the folks across Australia?
Brookie’s Gin is produced at our farm distillery (Cape Byron Distillery) in the hinterland of Byron Bay. From the top of our farm, you can see the sun rising behind the iconic Byron Bay Lighthouse. The distillery is set in the heart of our macadamia farm surrounded by subtropical rainforest. When my parents Pam and Martin Brook purchased the farm 30 years ago it was a run-down dairy farm. The land was degraded, covered in weeds and the soils were poor, but tiny remnants of rainforest remained. They set about planting a macadamia orchard and bringing the rainforest back to life.
In 2014, I had the privilege of orchestrating a three-week, sell out Australian whisky tour with the legendary Master Distiller Jim McEwan (aka 'The Cask Whisperer'). As we travelled together a firm friendship developed, and many tales were swapped. I told Jim the story of our family farm and the passion that my parents have for rainforest regeneration and how the Rainforest that they single-handedly regenerated is abundant with native fruits and botanicals. Jim was captivated. It became clear that we shared similar values and beliefs. A seed was planted and the idea for Cape Byron Distillery and 'Bookie’s Byron Dry Gin' was born.
What does it mean to be Australian to you?
I believe that native produce (and what is uniquely native to our land) should be at the core of our food & drink culture. For us it’s about constantly learning and playing around with these flavours and not being too afraid to try something new. Having fun with the different flavours Australia has to offer!
You have a very special location, do you mind giving us a little history on your family and the land your distillery sits on?
At Cape Byron Distillery we are driven by achieving uncompromising quality while supporting our backyard and leading the charge in environmental & sustainable practices. This focus comes from before Cape Byron Distillery was even a thought and sustainable practices & environmental consideration have been at the core of everything we do. Mum & Dad (Pam & Martin Brook) started regenerating the rainforest and planted over 35,000 rainforest trees and nursed the rainforest and land back to life. Today, it’s a thriving eco system that’s home to many species of native flora and fauna. In particular, it is home to many native rainforest botanicals unique to our area including native ginger, riberry, native raspberry, aniseed & cinnamon myrtle (just to name a few). I am lucky enough to be able to source these directly from our regenerated rainforest and distil them straight into our Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin. So, give what can be achieved with a couple of shovels 30 years ago, sustainability and doing things for the right reasons is something that has always been at the core of who we are as a family and in business.
How do you and the team at Cape Byron support and champion sustainability in your day to day?
We’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to champion sustainability in all our processes including production and bottling. We support sustainable solutions by training all our staff in sustainable waste management, including waste separation which is especially important in bottling and production. We also work closely with our suppliers to find sustainable solutions, such as natural corks and recycle glass.
Lastly, the distillery is dedicated to work with our local community where possible. In 2020, Cape Byron Distillery proudly received the Sustainability of the Year Award at the Icons of Gin Awards in London. While we have executed many measures, sustainability is an ever-evolving process and we’re excited to continue growing our sustainability goals. We just submitted our B-Corp certification!
Who are some local heroes or brands that inspire you?
We foster a close relationship with our local mates at Stone & Wood and collaborate on many projects such as Pacific Moonshine - distilled from kegs of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. They’re also our supplier of our beer/wash for our soon to be released whisky!
What are some of your favourite bars and restaurants in Byron?
So many beautiful bars and restaurants in Byron Bay, we’re spoiled with choice! Lightyears always deliver with great atmosphere, fun cocktails like the Netflix & Chill featuring Mac. and popcorn infused spiced rum, and tasty Modern Vietnamese food. Another favourite is the newly launch MVP, who can resist a dedicated pasta and negroni restaurant?
What is your favourite Brookie’s x CAPI cocktail?
The Moonlight Paloma – A nod to the contemporary cocktail made with tequila.
Moonlight Paloma, Pacific Moonshine (distilled from kegs of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale) served with CAPI Grapefruit Soda + a wedge of fresh lime.
YUM! Sip this beauty under the moonlight.
Head here to check out Cape Byron Distillery & Brookie's.