Eddie Brook – Brookie’s Gin
Ahead of Junipalooza Melbourne, we’ve caught up with a few distillers and owners, to talk all things Gin, Australia and what they’ve been up to. As part of the series we spoke with Eddie Brook, the energy ball powering all things Brookie’s Gin, who are getting set for their UK debut later in 2018…
The Brookie’s story is one both of location and environment, and imbuing that in what you make. When did the idea of spirits all begin for you?
Around 5 years ago the idea of starting a distillery came about (no doubt from one too many negroni’s), however, like many ideas it was but on a shelf. 3 ½ years ago through a long story of serendipity I met Jim McEwan. This man was my idol and we connected on true family values, but it was when I told him our family’s passion and love for regenerating the rainforest as well as the array of native flavours that we have in our backyard that the idea was truly born.
Obviously, he’s a bit of a legend in the Whisky industry but also a highly revered figure when it comes to gin too, what was it like working with Jim McEwan?
As you know, Jim is one of (if not the) most awarded and incredibly passionate distillers in the world. When I started in the spirit/hospitality industry, Jim was an idol and someone that I truly admired. If you asked me 5 years ago I would never in a million years have been able to tell you that not only would I have been trained by the great man but to be also sharing a business together, it is truly humbling. Jim’s knowledge and ability to balance flavours is out of this world, but more so than that, his passion and character are so infectious that you can’t help to be inspired by him every day.
And what about today – who’s the Brookie’s team and what are your roles?
After two years of the distillery operating we now have an epic team of 11 rockstars working at the distillery and around Australia. We are 100% a family owned & operated distillery consisting of Pam & Martin Brook (Parents), Will Brook (Brother), Jim McEwan & I. From being trained by Jim, my Brother and I look after the distillation side, from there we all wear many hats.
11, that’s a quite the team you’ve assembled! What’s been the highlight of highlights for you?
The most memorable moment would have to be the first time our spirit & final recipe for Brookie’s ran through big George (our 2000ltr Pot Still). It was late in the evening with only the family and Jim in the distillery. When our spirit ran, and we made that initial cut with all of the flavours balancing in together was incredible and very emotional moment… it’s safe to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the distillery that evening.
2000ltr is a relatively big rig for many and sets you up nicely to grow. What do you think the next 18 months looks like for the Gin category in Australia?
I can only see the strength of the Gin category (in particular the premium category) in Australia growing stronger. This is fuelled by the general customer searching and consuming better quality spirit rather than higher quantity and more and more people and falling in love with what the gin category has to offer. In Australia we are blessed with an incredible array of unique native flavours and I see (and hope) that this will be the backbone of the growth in our industry.
And further afield you are about to debut in the UK, if there was one thing above all else that you hope new drinkers on the other side of the world know you for – what would it be?
That you can produce a great spirit, product or business while having a positive impact on the environment. Over the past 30 years, we have planted over 35,000 rainforest trees that now have formed tour incredible regenerated rainforest, it is this rainforest where we source many of the botanicals that straight into our gin.
What are the signature flavours of your gin, and are there particular botanicals that give a lot of the flavour profile?
This may sound strange, but we set out to produce a Gin that still tastes like a gin, traditional in flavour yet layered and balanced with an array of incredible local, native flavours. Some key notes that you will get is the sweetness of Native aniseed Myrtle, fruity notes from the Native raspberry & riberry, incredible top notes of the Byron Sunrise variety of fingerlime yet these all tied under our Juniper & coriander.
So many distillers bring out new gin after another, but we love the way you’ve set out to do a few things to their best versions. That said, do you have any plans for variants?
As a family, we believe if you’re going to do something, do it and do it well. In comparison to many distilleries, we have a relatively small product list comprising our Brookie’s Byron Dry Gin & Our Brookie’s Slow gin made from the local rainforest plum, the Davidson Plum. We will be bringing out some new products however these will all look to highlight and purely show off some unique native flavours that many people would never have dreamt existed.
What’s been the most unexpected moment / event in your journey to date?
It would have to be the moment when I was initially talking to Jim and the idea for the distillery was born. We were on a flight from Melbourne to Tasmania, and Jim was fascinated by the native flavours that I was explaining. I was telling him of Aniseed Myrtle, cinnamon Myrtle, river mint, Fingerlime, strawberry gum and the list goes on…he then turned to me and said ‘we were meant to meet and start this distillery’. I still bear the scars on my arm from pinching myself!
What’s your favourite way to enjoy your gin – a cocktail or a particular G&T garnish combo perhaps?
My favourite way is classic Gin & Tonic (using a decent lighter style of tonic) garnished with fingerlime & aniseed myrtle. Apart from that, I am a sucker for a good classic Negroni…made with Brookie’s of course!
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