Indigenous- and family-owned distillery, Beachtree Distilling Co. has recently received $380,000 as part of the Coles Nurture Fund, to aid the distillery in expanding its sustainability initiatives.

Based in Caloundra, Queensland, Beachtree Distilling was co-founded by Kirra Daley and Master Distiller and Kamileroi man Steve Grace in 2020, with the pair ensuing that sustainability was a core value for the business that they were building.

“When we started Beachtree Distilling Co., sustainability was at the core of what we wanted to do. That’s why we started with organic ingredients, free from pesticides, artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives. We also use native and wild harvested ingredients,” Daley said.

Daley’s interest in fresh, locally sourced ingredients was fostered throughout her childhood, spent on a farm on Bunjalung Country, which spans NSW’s north coast and Queensland’s south.

“My father was a farmer, and we grew up with macadamia nuts, finger limes, and all sorts of produce. Plus, my mum is Italian, so we grew up also making wine, grappa, and limoncello. Through that I learned a lot about fresh, homegrown produce,” she said.

Daley’s upbringing inspired one of Beachtree Distilling Co.’s first sustainability initiatives, the one bottle, one tree initiative, which has aided the reforestation of koala corridors in Byron Bay and increasing native biodiversity in Perth.

“Growing up, I had an old Aboriginal saying: always give back more to the land than you take. That’s part of the reason why we started our one bottle, one tree initiative, where we arrange the planting of a tree with each bottle sale. It’s part of our philosophy of making sure that we leave our planet better than it was when we started,” she said.

Beachtree Distilling Co. is particularly focused on reducing landfill, and currently recycles or repurposes all waste and byproducts created by the distillery. For example, the heads and tails, byproducts from distilling a base spirit that are unfit for consumption, are repurposed into cleaning products. The Coles Nurture Grant will go towards installing solar panels into the distillery and towards the expansion of the Re-spirits project.

“I was so floored when Coles rang me about the grant. It’s nice to receive that acknowledgement as a Queensland small business,” Daley said.

The Re-spirits project repurposes waste products such as unsold fruits and vegetable, and byproducts from jam or cheesemaking, which are turned into spirits. For Daley, the connection between the distillery and local producers is core to the distillery’s success.

“We have always used real ingredients to create the real taste in our products. We’re very flavour focused, and we’re very focused on working with Australian farmers and growers. If we succeed, they succeed. One of the issues that we have been talking about with some of the farmers is that they have products that they don’t know what to do with. There are byproducts, waste products, and leftover fruits or veggies that they haven’t been able to manipulate into something other than landfill,” she said.

As the Re-spirits program is currently a small-scale operation, the distillery is unable to keep up with the volume of produce available to be repurposed.

“The more popular that Beachtree is becoming, the more awareness our local farmers have about Re-spirits. We have farmers reaching out to us, asking if we can do something with their products. We love that farmers are now reaching out directly to us and know the type of work we’re doing,” Daley said.

The Re-spirits program has necessitated some trial and error, but Daley said that the distillery is well-equipped to handle this challenge.

“We’re fairly unrelentless when it comes to experimentation within the distillery. We do pride ourselves on making all our own base products on our stills, and with that comes a lot of experimentation, product research, and development.

“We’re lucky that our Master Distiller is a mechanical and electrical engineer that works with a large engineering company. We have an opportunity to perfect Re-spirits and grow it into a larger scale,” she said.

The Coles Nurture Grant will allow Beachtree Distilling Co. to save produce from landfill, which is an area that the Re-spirits program has been unable to engage with at its current scale.

“The Re-spirits program will allow us to take some of these byproducts and waste and turn it into a very unique product. A lot of the experimentation in our current process will be developed on a larger scale,” Daley said.

Daley hopes that expanding the Re-spirits program will enable the distillery to create high quality products with a strong sense of place.

“We wanted to create an authentic Australian product, so I’m really excited about working with local farmers and growers. If we can create an exceptional, even a gold medal product out of this, and help farmers out along the way, I can’t imagine anything better.”

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