The Brooks family have never taken the easy road. From regenerating a rundown farm to recyclable packaging, from using native botanicals to sustainable waste management, Brookies has led the way with best practice in both the food and drink arms of their business, sustainability at the core of everything they do.
After winning multiple awards for their products, in 2022 they gained both the accreditation that is testament to the sustainability of their methods and an international award for recyclable packaging.
As if we needed any more reasons to enjoy Brookie’s Byron Gin or Mac, Cape Byron Distillery has just been officially accredited with B Corp Community certification after a vigorous application process. Using over 350 benchmarks across operations, employee treatment, community, and environmental impact, accreditation by B Corp recognises industry-leading environmental and community-focused businesses that have exceptional sustainability and business practices.
Cape Byron is only one of two distillers in Australia to achieve the distinction, which highlights the team’s commitment to the highest standard of production and corporate social responsibility.
Cape Byron Distillery, home of Brookie’s Byron Gin, was founded in 2016 on the now regenerated 95-acre family property.
In 1988 Pam & Martin Brook purchased the property, a cleared, run-down dairy farm on land that had originally been rainforest studded by elegant red cedars. It was another ten years before the family could afford to live on the property, moving there in 1999. In between, the Brook family set about planting 4,500 macadamia trees and 40,000 native rainforest plants.
From humble beginnings as a Bangalow market stall in 2000, the couple started their Brookfarm business making muesli, including the macadamia nuts they grew in their product.
It wasn’t long before their premium muesli gained attention, being served to Qantas business and first-class national and international travellers for over 17 years. Their award-winning range now includes macadamia muesli, granola, porridge, premium nut mixes and wholefood bars catering for a range of dietary needs.
With Brookfarm production now led by Pam and Martin’s eldest son Will, Cape Byron Distillery is under the management of their second son, Eddie. Pam and Martin remain involved in other aspects of the business. Like Brookfarm, Brookies’ gin is firmly grounded not only on family, but also on the family property and its native produce.
Today the property is a thriving regenerated ecosystem with countless self-seeded rainforest trees that not only provide the botanicals used to make Brookie’s gin, but also serve as essential habitat for native wildlife such as koalas, sugar gliders, microbats, possums and wrens.
We stop on our tour of the farm’s rainforest that Martin is so passionate about, and he remarks, “The air is so different here. Can you feel it?” He points out native bees, different plant species, and fungi which help dead trees disintegrate.
“We were one of the first to regenerate rainforest,” Martin says. “We are open for tours every weekend. It’s an essential part of what we do. Education about the importance of rainforest and biodiversity is so important.”
With fours stunning varieties of gin already under production, Cape Byron Distillery is presently making their first whisky in collaboration with whisky great Jim McEwan. Martin describes the whisky as being ‘born out of the rainforest’, as much a reflection of the Northern Rivers terroir as is their gin. Its production, also, will be just as environmentally conscious, with whisky waste staying on the farm supplying nutrients to the soil..
Cape Byron Distillery views its business as a force for good, going beyond industry norms, creating and implementing better solutions and hopefully working to teach and inspire others to do so, making them a leader in sustainable practice.
“We like to lead by example and in collaboration, bringing others along with us,” Martin tells us, outlining how waste macadamia nut husks are fed to the pigs on The Farm Byron Bay, and Davidson plums used to make slow gin are then made into jam, for sale in the distillery.
The Brookies are not resting on their laurels. Despite the accolades, awards and accreditations they have received, they are a team in perpetual motion. Their goals include improving the rainforest regeneration on site, protecting the biodiversity, as well as eliminating negative impacts from production.
To them, it’s important to choose long-term investments over quick wins, their success measured by the positive impact they create. Pam shows us the 2022 WorldStar Global Packaging Award winning Roll ‘n’ Recycle muesli pouch that took years to perfect. She seems equally as proud of the package as she is of the muesli, for good reason!
As to how we can be involved, Pam says, “By buying a product that cares about the environment, you are making a difference.”
With such delicious unique food and drink products on offer, that’s not difficult at all! Let’s eat and drink to that!
For more information or to book a tour at Cape Byron Distillery, visit capebyrondistillery.com
Cape Byron Distillery, 80 St Helena Rd, McLeods Shoot, NSW Ph: 02 6684 7961
Open: Fri 2pm – 6pm, Sat-Sun 10.45am – 6pm
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast visited Cape Byron Distillery as guests. Some photos have been supplied by Brookies.