March Outturn 2023 Article
The SMWS has had some absolute trailblazing women lead the charge over the years, both locally and internationally. We’ve also worked with many trailblazers who’ve helped shape the whisky scene and brought it to new audiences across the country. We sat down with Carlie Dyer from Starward distillery to talk about her journey.
- What is your role at Starward?
I am a Blender at Starward and work predominately with maturing whisky. I also lead our internal spirit quality and sensory program and am actively involved in new product development.
- What is your favourite thing about working in the Australian whisky industry?
While I do love traditional Scotch whisky, I really love the freedom for creativity we have in Australia. Whether it’s experimental yeasts, malts, cask maturation or mash bill combinations, we are leaders of innovation, expanding and diversifying whisky culture.
- How long have you been in the industry?
I’ve been in the alcohol industry for 11 years. I started in the wine industry as a lab technician when I was 19. I didn’t even drink wine! I was just a kid looking to make a buck. But that job really got me into the art and science of fermentation. I travelled to Italy to make wine and jumped back to Australia and managed a laboratory in the Yarra Valley for three years before starting my career in whisky in 2018.
- What led to your career in whisky?
The freedom for creativity and the rate at which craft whisky was growing really excited me. Also naturally being an oxidative product it’s a lot more stable than wine, so much less cleaning and monitoring!
- What was your first sipiphany? What was that whisky that made you say “Yep, this is great stuff”?
I was 22 and in Costa Rica visiting my dad, he was having a dram of Glenmorangie 10-year-old. That was my first whisky I sipped (not shot) and really enjoyed. I also have a sipiphany on every SMWS bottling of Clynelish distillery 26!
- Have there been any challenges you have faced working in the industry?
There have definitely been challenges. In a male-dominated industry it is quite common to be overlooked, ignored or to not be taken seriously because it’s assumed you don’t drink or know anything about whisky. This is a common misconception and as much as we
are moving away from this, it’s still there to some degree. In saying that, female and nonbinary presence is definitely expanding in our industry with big brands like Jack Daniels and Glenmorangie having women at the forefront of their advertising campaigns. In my four years in the industry, I’ve seen exponential growth in whisky becoming a more inclusive and diverse drink, which we really champion at Starward. Whisky is for everyone!
- What are some changes you would like to see in the industry for it to grow?
The spirit tax needs to be reduced for there to be further growth in the industry. With the third highest tax rate in the world, it’s absolutely insane that it continues to increase twice a year.
- What is an achievement you are proud of from 2022?
I am really proud of Starward’s achievement in the San Francisco spirits awards taking out 12 double golds and three golds last year. Being one of three Blenders, I really feel that we contributed and played a huge part in this win. It’s just assuring to know that we are doing something right!
- What is next for you? What are some goals you would like to smash in 2023?
I have a few projects coming of age in our bond store this year that will be released soon. It’s so exciting walking a product through from its conception to bottling and into market. My goal is to travel more, particularly to Scotland and Japan to get some experience in their distilling and blending practices.
You can read more about some Maverick Women of Whisky that we’ve chatted to in March Unfiltered — available exclusively to members from March 8, midday AEDT.
This article features in the March 2023 Outturn — bottles will be available to purchase on Friday the 3rd of March at midday AEDT exclusively to members of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Not a member? Click here to learn more about the world’s most colourful whisky club.