Distilling is an industry that’s dear to our hearts, but one that’s also historically male-dominated. With that in mind, it’s so impressive to see more women not only gaining footholds in the industry but seriously bossing it too.
So to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re sharing the insights of four of these inspiring women making world-class gin, rum, whisky and vodka right here in Australia.
Ally Ayres, owner-distiller at Karu Distillery, Alarna Doherty, owner-distiller at Tara Distillery, Carla Daunton, head distiller at Young Henrys and Lisa Truscott, distiller at Archie Rose Distilling all spoke at our International Women’s Day lunch at the beautiful Bloodwood restaurant in Sydney.
Their messages highlighted the power of unity, the importance of equality, and how these things can lift the bar on Australian craft spirits and the world at large.
Ally Ayres - Karu Distillery, Grose Hill, NSW
Q: What’s been the biggest highlight of your career in distilling so far?
It's really difficult to highlight just one thing as the biggest and it comes in stages of my career so far.
The first BIG highlight for me was discovering the combination that is now our Affinity Gin, that was the base of everything I had learnt so far and the "stop starting and start finishing" moment.
Another to date is falling in love with rum which was a spirit I never thought I'd even like, now it's the spirit I spend 85% of my time with.
Q: How are you challenging the distilling industry?
Being a woman in any industry has its challenges and trials; a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. I don't particularly like to take an aggressive approach and I don't believe that is the way to create a lasting impact, so I choose to patiently play the long game.
Normalising women working in the industry is important. I was told: "charring barrels is a man's job" so I got a photo of me charring a barrel and posted it.
I was told I would "never be more than the brand ambassador" and here I am behind the scenes getting it done and have 35+ awards across the world. (That is hard to say but feels nice).
The women in this industry are such strong and brave individuals that I am so proud of and celebrate their achievements and share our stories with others.