They live and breathe the paddock to bottle philosophy at Husk Distillery in north Tumbulgum. The home of Ink Gin and the birthplace of Australian Agricole rum, it all starts with Husk Distillery’s very own sugar cane plantation. From August to November the cane is harvested and then crushed at the onsite sugar mill. The cane juice makes the short journey to the distillery building next door for storing in fermentation tanks. Then, after some secret distilling business and ageing, it is finally bottled as Husk Rum. Meanwhile the leftover organic waste from the harvest is fed to the distillery’s contented cattle herd. A great circular economy tale!
Husk Distillery in north Tumbulgum in northern New South Wales is a 40-minute drive from Byron Bay and a 20-minute drive from Coolangatta airport. The dream to create an Australian Agricole rum began on the family farm of distiller Paul Messenger, his wife Mandy and daughters Harriet, Edwina and Claudia in 2012. While waiting for their first barrels of rum to age, they created the celebrated Ink Gin. It’s the one Margot Robbie posted about on Instagram. The post went viral with more than one million likes and the Ink Gin bottles flew off the shelves. If you haven’t tried it, Ink Gin is recognisable by its inky colour caused by an infusion of the vivid blue petals of the butterfly pea flower. When an acid is added to the gin, such as tonic water, the inky colour changes to a pretty pinkish hue. Ink Gin has a delicate flavour that’s delicious and much more than a novelty.
Husk Rum is also winning hearts and the range includes Spiced Bam Bam (great mixed with ginger ale and an orange peel curl), Husk Pure Cane which is an unaged Agricole perfect for cocktail mixing, Husk Pure Cane 50 – a Caribbean strength rum of 50% and Husk Triple Rum which is a deliciously smooth premium sipping rum. Husk Agricole rums are made using freshly crushed sugar cane juice rather than molasses typically used by other major rum distilleries.
To taste the Husk range and learn firsthand about the distilling process I recommend you sign up for a 40-minute distillery tour. The paddock to bottle tour through the facility ends with a tasting paddle in the ageing room. Post tour I think it is definitely wise to keep enjoying the Husk hospitality with a visit to the cellar door and bar and Planters Café where you can either dine café style at tables and chairs or stretch out on the lawn picnic style, which Mr GFAF and I enjoy the most. I highly recommend you book your picnic spot before arriving – especially on weekends – and bring your own picnic rug just in case it’s extra busy. Reserved picnic spots have large umbrellas for shade and low lawn tables for your grazing feast. You can spend your time watching the cattle herd doing some grazing of their own and take in the view of the paddocks and Wollumbin in the distance. Or you might fancy a game of coits or jingo.
Drinks are ordered at the pop-up lawn bar or at the cellar door inside. Enjoy classic and seasonally inspired cocktails as well as tasting paddles and sometimes limited release products.
Eats are ordered at the bar or Planters Café and there may even be a pop-up barbeque or food offering outside as well. The café menu includes their signature Husk Grazing Board featuring loads of local tastes including cheese from Cheeses Loves You, charcuterie from Salumi Australia, Byron Bay Crackers and rillettes from The Bay Smokehouse. There are smaller bar snacks like olives and traditional plantain chips as well as a tempting sweets menu to go with your Blackboard coffee from nearby roasters at Burleigh Heads. Try the Husk Spiced Bam Bam Baked Choc Brownie with pistachio, macadamia & caramel. Kids are catered for with a pint-sized Kids Board and toastie.
I can’t think of a more perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon than on the lawn at Husk Distillery in north Tumbulgum surrounded by green paddocks and the majestic Wollumbin in view. Book a picnic spot, settle in with something yummy to drink and eat and enjoy the paddock to bottle experience soon.
Husk Distillery is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11am – 5pm and Friday – Sunday from 11am – 6pm.Entry is free. Distillery tours depart at various times throughout the day, cost $35 per person and include a tasting paddle. Make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Husk at Dusk Accoustic Sessions are now on at the Distillery every Friday over the warmer months from 4.30pm with live music and pop up eats as well as extended trading hours on Fridays and Saturdays until 7pm.