Byron Bay-based distillery Cape Byron is well known for its creation of delicious Brookie’s Gin, but over the last couple of years, they have been working closely with legendary Jim McEwan, one of the world's most awarded distillers, to begin a new chapter within the world of whisky distilling. Jim’s wealth of experience helped Brookies develop into an iconic and one-of-a-kind gin recognised for its native botanical flavours. He is now using his deep knowledge, combined with his Scottish heritage, to establish a newfound Australian-made single-malt whisky in close collaboration with Cape Byron.
Cape Byron Distrillery’s unique location under the canopy of the regional rainforests set it apart from traditional whisky production sites, especially those in Scotland. Inspired by the natural world, the salty-soaked shores, the power of the ocean and the rich history the land carries sit at the heartbeat of the distillery. McEwan and distillery founders Pat and Martin Brook’s son, Eddie, have an exceptional bond that allows them to create something utterly unique together. For Jim, the sound of the crashing waves on Broken Head reminds him of home, his own history that translates into his work. Developing a new single-malt is a way to connect this with the practices of traditional whisky-making with contemporary methods within the Cape Byron environment.
The process of creating whisky is very different to the distilling of gin. To produce the spirit that later develops into whisky, Jim and Eddie worked closely with local brewery Stone and Wood, who helped provide them with premium yeast strains from their beer; this is then used as a wash for the farm-grown malted barley that makes the base of the recipe. Mixed with spring water from the base of Mount Warning that watches across from the Cape, the liquid is poured into large copper pots that are custom-made to replicate traditional Scottish whisky pots from the highlands to the hinterlands. Once this wash is double-distilled, what is referred to as the ‘heart of the run’ is carefully placed into ex-bourbon oak barrels that are left to age slowly and refine over time. Jim fondly refers to the barrels as a mother figure that nurtures the liquid to grow and develop under its close care. These casks are maturing in a warm, humid climate that will positively impact their distinctive flavour profile and evolving journey.
The time taken to develop the raw materials and the elements, to absorb the sweet notes of the rainforest and the marine influence from the coastline is savoured in every drop of this complex spirit. By using traditional means, the process and ageing are slower, but like anything from Cape Byron, it is always worth the wait. Eddie and Jim’s passion and devotion to the cause will be enjoyed by future generations, which is all part of the family-run business.
So close your eyes and let the Cape Byron Whisky transport you to a pure moment, exposed to the wilderness, feeling the pulse of mother nature. Luxuriously smooth, this whisky is perfect for sipping on its own, enjoying over ice or as the base of your favourite cocktail.
Check out our limited edition Cape Byron Whisky Hamper here.