Dr. Rachel Barrie’s Whisky Wonderland Down Under and the Trends Shaking Up Australia’s Scotch Scene
In the realm of fine spirits, Dr. Rachel Barrie, crowned the World’s First Lady of Scotch by Brown-Forman, commands the industry with an artful touch, guiding it to unprecedented heights, flavors, and accolades.
Embarking on her maiden voyage to Australia, Dr. Barrie graced Elizabeth Bay House to pay homage to women in whisky. With finesse, she introduced a local panel featuring Emily Ashbolt Cason, Co-CEO of The Whisky Club, and Kathleen Davies, Founder of Women of Australian Distilling. Together with Dr. Barrie, they delved into unique insights and emerging trends shaping the whisky landscape.
A GlenDronach masterclass with Dr Rachel Barrie
The evening was enriched by a GlenDronach masterclass, expertly conducted by Rachel, providing an exclusive sneak peek at upcoming arrivals from The GlenDronach Distillery destined for Australian shores in the months to come.
Here are notable excerpts from the panelists:
Dr. Rachel Barrie reflected on her 30 years in the industry, expressing encouragement for the growth of diversity and inclusion, especially for women. She highlighted the recruitment of Kirsten Ainslie in 2021, emphasizing the fantastic experience of working and mentoring her, showcasing a long-term commitment to investing in and expanding their single malts portfolio.
Emily Cason of The Whisky Club
Emily Cason of The Whisky Club marvelled at the evolving whisky landscape, emphasizing the wonderful phenomenon of passion and enthusiasm drawing more people into the category. She debunked stereotypes, noting that the modern whisky drinker defies categorization by gender, affluence, or age, uniting everyone through a shared passion transcending demographic labels and industry clichés.
Kathleen Davies representing Women of Australian Distilling
Kathleen Davies, representing Women of Australian Distilling, shared her mission and that of her board and team. She aimed to empower women to step into roles they may feel unqualified for, encouraging them to apply for positions and providing opportunities they might not traditionally receive. Drawing from her early career experiences, she underscored the commitment to support and cheerlead for women taking bold leaps in the industry.
Dr. Rachel Barrie, in a reflection on her approach, emphasized the importance of passion, curiosity, and the courage to put oneself forward. She spoke about continuous learning and the drive to “nurture the best nature” of each distillery, understanding how each environment influences them. Her ethos revolves around consistently raising the bar and expectations.
Turning to the local whisky trends discussed:
Diversity and inclusion took centre stage, with a resolute commitment to long-term diversity initiatives for women in the whisky industry.
The role of women in a traditionally male-dominated industry emerged as a poignant theme, showcasing the leadership of women from distilling to top-tier roles.
The surge of Single Malt Scotch Whisky in Australia was underscored by Roy Morgan data, revealing a trending market with over $1.1 billion in retail sales.
Australians are enjoying single malt scotch whisky
Australians are adopting a “less but better” approach, seeking quality over quantity, evident in the growing popularity of premium liquids like Scotch. Single Malts, with their quality and exclusivity, witnessed robust growth, outpacing Blended Scotches at +3.8% in 2022.
Challenging stereotypes, more women are choosing Scotch as their drink of choice, constituting 40 percent of all Scotch drinkers. Additionally, younger enthusiasts under 35 are exploring and embracing the category.