Australian women in distilling for International Women’s Day

March 4, 2021
By Melissa Parker

We’re shining a light on some of the female distillers in Australia who are creating innovative spirits and taking the industry by storm. 

Lark Distillery & Forty Spotted Gin

We talk to distiller and blender at Tasmania’s Lark Distillery, Jodie Dawe and production assistant at Forty Spotted Gin, Silvia Segato to discover why championing stronger gender diversity in the distilling industry is paving the way for women distillers. We also welcome the International Women’s Day initiative from Whisky Loot and Gin Loot as they champion women distillers in Australia.

For women considering the traditionally male-dominated distilling sector, there is no better time to get involved than now. The Australian distilling industry is innovative, exciting, forward-thinking and its embracing women.

Jodie Dawe has been working in the whisky industry for four years and was first attracted to the world of whisky when she started at Lark Distillery’s cellar door in early 2017.

“At the time, I knew next to nothing about whisky but was welcomed with open arms into the industry and soon developed a passion for all spirits,” Dawe says.

Dawe’s drive to promote gender diversity and equality within the distilling industry lies in her aim to dispel the gender stereotypes often associated with whisky, traditionally dominated and marketed by men, so more women can be encouraged to join the industry.

“Regardless of gender, Lark offers pathways and training and provides equal career development opportunities based on competency and drive,” she says.

Dawe says parts of the distilling industry are already taking steps to offer women pathways and career opportunities.

“I am confident that in ten years, we can achieve a 50/50 male/female split across all roles. However, to see this happen, we need to promote gender diversity and equal opportunity within other professions that are still currently male-dominated such as Business, Commerce, Finance and Management, since these roles play an important role within any business, including the spirits industry,” Dawe says.

Dawe explains it can be hard to break into any industry long dominated by men. However, her advice would be to immerse yourself in the industry and get your foot in the door.

“The distilling industry in Australia is currently going through a period of massive growth, and showing you have passion and drive can get you a long way towards achieving your goals.”

Silvia Setago is relatively new to distilling, starting at Lark cellar door two years ago as a bartender. In August 2020, she began as production assistant distilling Forty Spotted Gin and now distils Lark whisky as well.

“I still have a lot to learn, but I am positive and keen on absorbing new knowledge,” says Setago.

Setago came from years of experience working in hospitality and cut her teeth creating cocktails. She says the wave of women interested in distilling is exciting and a positive evolution for a historically male-dominated industry.

She says the distilling industry in Australia focuses on encouraging and championing female teams, such as at Anther Distillery in Geelong and Kristy Lark Booth’s distillery, Killara Distillery in Richmond, Tasmania.

“I say the revolution has already started. It’s inspiring to see more participation of women, and the future can only get better,” she says.

Whisky Loot & Gin Loot

Australian specialist online alcohol subscription services, Whisky Loot and Gin Loot, have partnered with three unique female-led distilleries for March as part of their International Women’s Day celebrations.

Together, they have created a beautiful one-time only whisky and gin tasting pack designed to bring you the best from Australia’s leading female distillers. Each whisky and gin has been hand-picked by the distiller to showcase the best expression of the distiller and their distillery. 

Gin Loot will showcase Kangaroo Island Distillery, Sarah Lark’s O’Gin, in Melbourne, Brogan Carr’s Evening Light Gin from Brogan’s Way Distillery and Rose Kentish’s Lemon Flower Gin from Sparkke Distillery.

“It’s really important for female makers to be recognised for their abilities to make spirits. This pack allows the public to meet the talent behind these incredible gins – as newcomers to the spirit world, we’re delighted to be included with these powerhouse women on International Women’s Day – and any other day,” says Rose Kentish, Sparkke.

Brogan Carr says it’s a great time for a woman to join the craft distilling industry, especially in Australia and teaming up with Gin Loot is a wonderful way to showcase the wonderful and creative work being done by other Australian female distillers.

The Whisky Loot pack showcases the creative distilling prowess of Suzy Brett from Spring Bay Distillery with her Sherry Cask Single Malt, Naomi Mcintosh from Chief’s Son with the Cask Expression R2 Imperial Stout whisky and Starwood’s Carlie Dyer and her Fortis Single Malt Batch II.

“I am excited to be included in the Whisky Loot box and have selected a whisky that highlights the art and science of whisky-making. It’s like what all great women in distilling – what you see and what you get are more complex and profound than what one might expect,” says Naomi Mcintosh, Chief’s Son.

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