ADWA tasting event
The Oak Barrel
July 13, 2018
Those unseen, yet unbreakable barrier that keep minorities and women from rising to the upper echelons of the realm of their professions and crafts, regardless of their expertise and qualifications.
A phenomenon that not surprisingly, does not seem to refrain from pervading the male dominated domain of distilling.
What to do?
Commiserate, learning where your place is and play along?
Not an option for the women behind the ADWA: To promote awareness of the industry to women looking to enter into the distilling community, women within these activities to those outside the distilling industry and the standards of best practice for the industry as a whole, ADWA (“Australian Women in Distilling Association”, do not confuse it with Charles Manson’s uncompromising ecological mandate propounded by Charles Mans, i.e. “ATWA”) has been founded.
The main tenet of the association is to put focus on the encouragement of women who seek to enter the industry by providing access to networking opportunities through curated events, the growth of knowledge through forums and presentations as well as access to the wealth of expertise its members have to offer.
Last Friday one the events was held at Sydney’s fiercely independent, geschmaecklerische bottle shop The Oak Barrel.
The event was open to lovers of all things spirits, specifically women in the distilling industry and those wanting to get into the industry to offer chance to chat about all things distillery related, sample the latest emissions from the organisers distils and get to know the stories of the women behind them.
Hosted by Kristy Booth Lark from Killara Distillery, who along with her mother, the first lady of Australian Distilling, Lyn Lark shed light on their times building the whisky empire that not only had an immensely positive effect on the Tasmanian distilling scene but became one of the most esteemed whisky houses on international terrain, the event’s presenters included Lorelle Watson from Bellarine Distillery, Genise Hollingworth from Black Gate Distillery and the American Samantha Stephani from Archie Rose.
Proceedings started off with Kristy Booth detailing her journey from being the head distiller of her father’s Lark Distillery before moving from underneath her heritage’s immense shadow taking a leap of faith to start anew and create her own Killara Distillery in Goodwood, Tasmania with a 600-litre copper pot still in 2015.
We have had the pleasure of sampling Killara’s Apothecary Gin before: An excellent spirit based on a foundation of ten different botanicals, housed in a stylish bottle that pays homage to Kristy’s faible for antiques and nostalgia.
Her cane-sugar based vodka proved to be dangerously drinkable. Vodka might not be known for its sip-able qualities, but I can see myself enjoying this by itself without the need for adding further mixers.
What got me mildly excited is the prospect of Killara's first single malt whisky being released in September, albeit in a super limited edition of a mere bottles made with glass hand-blown in Launceston. As a teasing taster, Kristy offered an idea of what direction her whisky that has so far been aged for 8 months is taking. It still has another sixteen months to mature, but it promises to be a big one.
Archie Rose based in Rosebery, NSW was established in 2014 and has since become a veritable force in the distillery scene – both in Australia and internationally. You would be hard pressed to not find the distillery's gins, vodkas, rums and white whiskies on bar menus around Sydney and the reason for it is plain to see: Their trademark Distiller’s Strength Gin, which was proffered tonight, is informed by the flavours of sixteen individually distilled botanicals including fresh pears out of Orange and honey from the distillery's rooftop beehives and, what can I say, is a sheer delight. Representative Samantha Stephani elaborated on her travails from being a college student in the US to scoring a job with the upcoming house of Archie Rose and being catapulted to the forefront of the distilling scene with a distillery whose operations are constantly expanding.
Archie Rose is known for its willingness to experiment and collaborate – merely thinking of Archie Rose’s collaboration with Kaiju! evokes a Pavlovian reaction with your humble narrator – and I hope that we will be able to sample their first rye malt whisky in mid-2019, with a single malt to follow soon afterwards.
Bellarine Distillery was established in 2015 after a trip to Scotland and the founders being inspired by the romance of the Highlands, as the first Distillery on the Bellarine Peninsula and the first in the greater Geelong region.
Tonight’s offering and the discovery of the evening was Teddy and the Fox Gin: Describing it as an aromatic blend of six botanicals, juniper, coriander, orange, lemon myrtle, orris root and star anise does not do it justice as the end result with its dominant citrus character is much bigger than the sum of its components. One of the most sip-able, aromatic gins I have had the pleasure to taste in a long time. Given their gin, I cannot wait to taste their upcoming whisky expressions, which most definitely will warrant a separate feature.
Black Gate Distillery is a small, husband and wife operation established in 2009 in the Central West of New South Wales. While they produce Single Malt Whisky and Dark Rum, unfortunate tonight only the Rum was on offer.
Genise Hollingworth shared how the big and bold rum with toffee and caramel flavours, made from fermented refinery molasses and double distilled in a traditional all copper, direct fired pot still came to fruition. A formidable tipple, that convinces with its natural flavours as it is devoid of sugars or flavours.
Again, it pained to become cogniscent of the fact that Black Gate Distillery not only does rum, but apparently Single Malt Whisky that was matured in rum casks without being able to taste it. If Black Gate’s rum is anything to go by, it will be a winner for sure.
Photos by @k.a.vv