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Water of Life - Cape Byron Distillery launches whisky with Jim McEwan

When we first got to sample Cape Byron’s emissions in the realm of gin six years ago, we fell in love instantaneously.

Distilled in a rainforest and featuring twenty-five native botanicals, the lion’s share of which stemming from the luscious surrounding of the distillery, it made Brookie's Dry Gin stand out from other Australian gin expressions.

Upon approach the nostrils were tickled by a melange of coriander and juniper dancing against a backdrop of delicate citrus notes. On the top of the mouth raspberry, aniseed myrtle and macadamia nuances were married only to then culminate in spicy, peppery notes. All carried by a thick, luxurious mouthfeel, I enjoyed it neat as I felt that the adage of Tonic would only dilute the delicate flavours.

As if their quality emissions and unique location in Byron Bay’s Hinterland were not enough, my interest was further piqued when I learned about Jim McEwan being a close family friend of the Brook family, known for not only having been the master distiller at Ardnahoe, Bowmore and also the man who helped to resuscitate Bruichladdich distillery and incepted my favourite whisky series, i.e. Octomore.

Needless to say, we were intrigued when we learned about Jim McEwan joining Eddie Brook for an evening of celebrations to launch Cape Byron’s first single malt release.

Easing into the proceedings with a signature Brookie’s G&T on arrival, attendants were treated to a curated tasting selection centred around what will be Cape Byron’s core release single malt, an exquisite Chardonnay cask expression along with an early taste of what is to become a banging and, given McEwan’s involvement, highly-anticipated peated expression.

Cape Byron Distllery’s core expression has been aged in a carefully curated selection of Bourbon casks, ranging from Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniels, Buffalo Trace to Jim Beam, so it should not come as a surprise that there are depths of vanilla flavours that serve as the foundation for pears, kiwi and lychee to shine from.

While in terms of climate Byron Bay is not remotely close to the island of Islay, the fact that Cape Byron Distillery is also located closely to the sea is an interesting parallel, which brings forth local equivalents in terms of infusing their drops with distinct local salinity.

The taste of the peated expression, which after further maturation of another eighteen years will hopefully see the light of day in early 2024, promises big things and I cannot wait to get my paws on it.

An interesting nuance was proffered via Mac. by Brookie’s, which is a premium liqueur with the flavour profile determined by roasted Macadamia nuts and toasted Wattle seed. The result is a tour de force in the realm of nutty flavours, which clocking in at 30% lends itself perfectly as a dessert sipper or to add cacao- and caramelly depth to your Espresso Martini.


image from company website

T• September 12, 2022

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