Remember a time in your life when you did the right thing, always? Remember that? It felt good, didn’t it. Life must always be like that.
– Brian Restall
It was just one of those moments, those lightbulb moments. Years in the renewables industry, late nights all around the globe, ending the day sipping on a glass of fine rum or whisky, it all led me here to a place I spent a lot of my childhood. It was never a plan but looking back now it makes perfect sense.
In 2014, I was the new CEO of Cape Byron Power, the owner and operator of two 100% renewable power stations in the northern rivers region. The renewable power stations supply half of the local areas’ electricity supply. A little known fact is that half of all local power is actually delivered by these local renewable power stations. The power stations are adjacent to the farmer owned sugar mills and sugar cane is a major contributor to their fuel supply production. Molasses is the by-product of refining sugarcane and I came to understand that the majority of it was being used for cattle feed. Rum is distilled from molasses. And there it was – the defining moment.
I broached the subject with my wife Helen. Moving back to the region where I spent so many childhood weekends and holidays and being able to raise our family in a more natural environment, had long since been a regular topic of conversation. Helen shared my excitement and, as a discerning lover of light spirits, the concept grew from a Rum micro-distillery to a Spirits micro-distillery – but more than that, we wanted a farm and plenty of land, where our three children could learn about the important things, life’s basics, how to grow and nurture produce, how to be self-sufficient, and be part of a broader community.
The more we talked about it, the greater the concept grew. We wanted to have an authentic, productive farm, operated with integrity, growing our own produce using the biological agriculture method, respectful of the environment and sustainable. This would allow us to really control the quality of the ingredients for our distillery. We wanted to forge relationships with other local farmers and producers in the area, helping us all to move away from intensive farming and value add to the unique produce grown in our region. Having a plan is generally half the battle as a luck had it fate shined on us; our farm was waiting for us and she was perfect.
Choosing Lord Byron Distillery as the name for our micro distillery was one of the easiest decisions we made. The farm and the micro distillery are both in Byron Bay. Lord Byron, the romantic English poet, had always been someone I had looked up to since studying his works and life when I was a teenager. Here is a poet who excelled in life and love, despite an abusive childhood. His artistic works are still studied more than 200 years after he lived. His passion for life and love and his rebellious non-conformity was in clear contrast to the conservative times in which he lived. We all have the Spirit of Byron in us. We just need to true to ourselves and live life more.