It was back in 2012 when Husk Distillers produced its first bottle of agricole rum, capturing the unique flavours of the region by using the family farm’s home-grown sugar cane. Unlike most run-of-the-mill rums, which are made from molasses, Husk’s golden-hued sugar cane by-product was a new expression of Australian rum, and became known for its reflection of provenance. Bound by the limited harvesting season for sugar cane, the barrel-ageing timeframes, and their determination to stick to an ethos of closed-loop production, Husk’s head distiller Paul Messenger was forced to diversify into the (far quicker) world of gin production. Little did the family know that, as a way of passing time while their beloved rum aged to perfection in the barrels, they would soon be creating the now world-famous purple-hued Ink Gin.
Until recently, the rum and gin production was done in a tiny distilling shed on the family’s 60-hectare Tumbulgum farm, which incorporates a mixture of sugar-cane fields, untouched rainforest and vast paddocks where cattle graze on discarded distilling botanicals. Buoyed by growth in the craft-spirit scene, the past few years has seen Husk Distillery barely keeping up with demand for its agricole rums (such as the Caribbean-strength pure-cane batches and its Spiced Bam Bam releases) and of course, its Ink Gin – so expansion was necessary. The tin shed has now been replaced by Husk Distillery’s striking new paddock-to-bottle facility, which also includes a cellar door, a cocktail bar and cafe. Why? Well, the Messenger family wanted to add a hospitality element to be able to engage with the community, showcase local produce, and offer experiential education for sippers of their spirits. Sure, there’s a lot more room to move now, but Husk remains patient with its growth – at the moment, all of the sugar cane is still harvested by hand and everything is bottled and packaged by hand, all under the watchful eye of Tilly, the resident distillery dog.
Husk’s cellar door and cocktail bar will offer tasting flights, a collection of cocktails, local beer, kombucha and PS Sodas, as well as take-home bottles of Husk’s creations. On the other side lies Planter’s cafe, which serves Blackboard Coffee alongside a selection of eats like fresh-baked baguette sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards, and bread and dips – all brimming with local meats, cheeses and salads sourced from the immediate region. The cafe will also serve baked goods like croissants, cookies and gin-infused artisan chocolates, while a provincial dessert menu – part of a collaboration with Tweed bakery Baked at Ancora – will expand over time with treats like rum-doused cakes and gin-spiked sweets. There’s plenty of seating scattered between the bar and the cafe – or you can simply grab a picnic rug, and settle in with cocktails and cheese on the lush green lawn.
Husk is also running distillery tours from Wednesday to Sunday for those keen to learn more. You’ll find opening hours, location and contact details over in our Stumble Guide.