There is an interesting story behind Pacific Moonshine. One of COVID, resilience, ingenuity, and tech that saw thousands of litres of Stone and Wood Pacific Ale turned into this clear, unique spirit.
Stone and Wood make a pretty good range of beers. It’s Pacific Ale is a Pale Ale with a lovely passionfruit, citrus and tropical fruit flavours. It uses all Australian Barley, pale malt, Tassie Galaxy Hops and the result is a 4.4% ABV ‘Byron Bay in a bottle’. If you are a Pale Ale drinker or enjoy seafood – this is it.
Well, COVID lockdowns royally stuffed the pub, restaurant and tourism business. So Cape Byron Distillery worked with Stone and Wood to buy back thousands of litres of Pacific Ale that would have gone to waste. They could have turned it into hand sanitiser – heaven forbid.
Greater minds prevailed, and the concept of turning the Pacific Ale into a spirit began.
What does Pacific Moonshine taste like?
That’s a little hard because it technically is a beer spirit distilled twice through ‘George’, the 2,000L custom-made copper pot still. It creates a spirit using similar production techniques to a single malt whisky. But it is not a whisky. It is a clear spirit mixed with just enough local Mt Warning spring water to come in at 44% ABV.
The nose is definitely one of pure raw spirit with hints of malt. There are no wood hints – it is not barrel-aged although they are experimenting with that.
The taste is clean, and it has a certain ‘gin-ness’. It is a little salty (I like that) and full of tropical fruit nuances (lychee, passionfruit, and pineapple) – not unlike its Pale Ale pedigree. You can drink it neat over ice, but there are better spirits for that.
So far, I have raided the fridge and tried it with one or two shots (30/60ml) in a tall glass (with ice)
Bundaberg Ginger Beer instead of Bundy Rum. Instead of the rum taste, you get a more intense Ginger beer taste with a kick. Add a lime wedge if you want, and it is best with two shots
Believe it or not, it enhances Solo – a man’s drink you can slam down! But not too many! One-shot does not do much, but two adds a certain saltiness. It works equally well with any lemon/lime pub squash soft drink.
Schweppes Tonic (instead of gin) gives refreshing drink but tends to lack ‘just a little’ – add some crushed lemon or lime to bring out the fruit.
Soda water brings out the pineapple, lychee, passionfruit, and mango, along with hints of malt on the nose. Again, add lemon or lime to taste.
Iced Tea – cheat and use a fruit flavoured tea or infusion bag but make sure it is on the strong side. Add sugar or lemon/lime juice to taste.
Pine/Orange/Mango from Golden Circle. It adds the zest to the zing. I also put in a few pieces of frozen (or fresh) pineapple. Don’t try it with Apple juice!
Pepsi Max or Coke overpowers it a little, but it is perfectly acceptable instead of a rum and coke.
Forget drinks like a martini or straight – it is a mixer.
Pacific Moonshine – why and where to get it
First, there are only 1000, 700ml bottles at $89.99 online orders here. If it is a hit, there may be more.
Second, $6 from every bottle sold to the inGrained Foundation, a community not-for-profit that supports grassroots environmental and social charities.
Third, it is a great story of resilience, ingenuity and tech. You can do your part to reward locals Stone and Wood and Cape Byron Distillery. It’s 100% made from Aussie ingredients (if you count Tassie!) in the NSW Northern Rivers – one of the country’s prettiest areas.
You can read other ‘tech’ alcohol beverage reviews here
Pacific Moonshine – hooch from Cape Byron Distillery (review)
Value for money
All natural ingredients
A great mixed that can replace rum, ginm and whisky with any 'fruity' base