It’s International Women’s Day today, folks. So in the interest of raising a virtual glass to women everywhere, including those kicking goals in male-dominated industries, I thought I’d shed some light on the world of women in the alcohol business.
Alcohol production has traditionally been seen as a male-dominated space. But that’s slowly changing. To get a sense of the industry and what it is like for women working within it, I spoke with a handful of women distillers. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Why is it important to see women in alcohol production?
The resounding answer I got from this question was that it is valuable to see women in all areas of the alcohol industry but when it comes to whisky, in particular, seeing more women fill roles is a powerful way to help break gender stereotypes when it comes to the spirit.
“…it encourages diversity in what can be a male-dominated workplace,” shared Carlie Dyer of Starward Distillery.
“We are slowly breaking down the divide with more women entering the industry and taking on influential roles. Whisky is no longer just a ‘man’s drink'”.
Suzy Brett of Spring Bay Distillery added that it’s more than just a great opportunity for women who love working with spirits; it’s a smart business choice:
“Having women involved in making the products opens up the market to more female consumers and perhaps inspires other women to try the products or become part of this great industry,” she said.
What changes are we seeing when it comes to women and the world of booze?
As Dyer and Brett touched on above, we’re starting to see more women in distilling, winemaking and brewing, and this has a knock-on effect, shares Kari Allen of Sparkke Distillery:
“A slowly growing number of female makers, coupled with the rapidly expanding number of female spirit drinkers, will bring some valuable and needed change to the industry.”
Though, the work that goes into this change is not without its challenges:
“Well, it was pretty fabulous that women were allowed to start drinking in the front bars of Australia in 1965 – and pay the same price as men for their drinks. Wink emoji,” Allen shared over email.
“More seriously, it’s so much simpler, and less confrontational to say that we haven’t really experienced gender-based challenges in the alcohol industry on our journey – but unfortunately that isn’t true. If you are a woman in this space with big aspirations, you need to be prepared for the reality that you are going to have to work twice as hard, if not thrice as hard, to get and maintain a seat at the table.”
“Diversity and inclusion will always enrich and progress the industry further. Why use 50% of your talent pool when you can use 100%,” she added.
What we need to get to that point, however, is more enthusiastic encouragement of women to get involved if they’re interested.
“I think Australian distilleries are pioneering new world spirits by breaking boundaries and giving women room to be creative with new products and projects,” Dyer shared.
But to see that become the norm, we need to have “[industry] education and training [become] readily available. I would like to see gender imbalance disappear completely in the workplace however, we’ve got a wee while to go before we get to that.”
So, where can you find some women-led alcohol companies?
Gin Loot and Whisky Loot have partnered with female-led distilleries to create gin and whisky tasting packs in honour of International Women’s Day.
These packs feature gin and whisky bottles from:
- Spring Bay Distillery
- Chief’s Son Distillery
- Kangaroo Island Spirits
- Sparkke Distillery
- Starward Distillery
- Brogan’s Way Distillery
Take one home here:
Whisky Loot International Women’s Day One Off Tasting Pack RRP $89
Gin Loot International Women’s Day One Off Tasting Pack RRP – currently sold out
Other women-led alcohol options:
For this piece, I also chatted with the team at Manly Spirits.
One thing’s for certain – there are loads of ways to say cheers to women today.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.