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Water of Life – Cape Byron Distillery

Cape Byron Distillery had been on my radar for the longest time but once I realized that experienced distiller and Byron Bay native Eddie Brook had joined forces with the legend that is commonly also referred to as ‘The Cask Whisperer’, i.e. Jim McEwan, a man that has perfectioned his craft over five decades as such fantastic distilleries like Bowmore and my beloved Bruichladdich, it became apparent that there was something special to be found.

Dedicated to honouring traditional distillation methods and incorporating Bruichladdich Distillery’s credo that “terroir matters”, Cape Byron Distillery uses the best of what the greater Byron Bay Region has got to offer to create their idiosyncratic spirits: Specifically their gin expressions are examples par excellence for infusing their emissions with at times unique local botanicals sourced from the rainforest they are surrounded by, that are nowhere else to be found, e.g. native Raspberries, varieties of Riberry as well as the Jerseyana variety of Davisonia and their local variant of Ginger, Cinnamon & Aniseed Myrtle.

The first expression from Cape Byron Distillery I have had the pleasure of sampling is their zesty limited release going under the name of Shirl the Pearl, an uplifting new kumquat-infused gin and a liquid homage to the grandmother of distillery co-founder Eddie Brook.

Honouring Shirley Brook’s original recipe, Eddie channels his ancestor’s alchemy in the creation of a gin that lives up to its name with the orangey, zesty nuances, which are counterpointed by the trademark bitterness and acidity derived from Australian kumquats. Shirl the Pearl not only makes a great component for a Gin & Tonic but also a perfectly sippable aperitif and the fact that the golden hued drop is adorned with a stylish label, makes it an aesthetically pleasing addition to any liquor shelf.

Given the quality, care and craftmanship that goes into the creation of their gins, I cannot wait for Cape Byron Distillery’s first whisky expression, which is currently being created – given Jim McEwan’s involvement and the unique terroir and climate of the Byron Bay’s subtropical rainforest, this is bound to result in a unique flavour profile.


image from company website

December 5, 2020

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