Over the weekend, some of Australia’s top female distillers travelled to Sydney to launch a mentoring program that supports the growing pool of female talent in the spirits industry – Women of Australian Distilling.
Women of Australian Distilling founder, Kathleen Davies, said long-term trends in alcohol consumption showed Australians overall were drinking less but better-quality products, with women leading the shift in patterns. But the industry was tarnished by outdated stereotypes.
“For example, government figures show almost three times as many Australian women choose to enjoy spirits rather than beer, but all we ever hear from our politicians in the media is about the importance of supporting beer and the brewing industry,” Davies said.
So, this group of Australian women have united to support each other.
“Alcohol is traditionally a male-dominated industry, but I see no reason why women can’t dominate in craft distilling,” Davies said. “As consumers, women are leading the premiumisation charge, looking for quality products and local ingredients. So, it makes sense that women should be making those products. They understand the market.”
The Women of Australian Distilling mentorship program will pair experienced women leaders from large spirits manufacturers with craft distillers, blenders and others working in the industry.
It was formally launched at a sold-out International Women’s Day lunch and “cocktail degustation” at Newtown’s Bloodwood restaurant on Sunday, with some of the pioneers of craft distilling flying in to attend.
Among the mentors confirmed for the first wave of the program were: Brown-Forman ANZPI (ANZ, Pacific Islands) managing director Eveline Albaraccin; Beam-Suntory Oceania managing director Andrea Parker; and Bundaberg Distilling Company chair Amanda Lampe.
“I am delighted to be a mentor in the inaugural Women of Australian Distilling’s Senior Leadership Mentor Program,” Albarracin said. “It’s so important that we recognise and nurture emerging female talent to ensure women continue to aspire to leadership positions in this growing industry.”
Women of Australian Distilling is supported by the industry’s peak bodies including Spirits & Cocktails Australia, Australian Distillers Association, the Australian Gin Distillers Association and Women in Hospitality (WOHO), with an advisory board drawn from this group as well as craft distillers.