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 Lisa Truscott from Archie Rose distillery to talk about her journey.
- What is your role at Archie Rose?
My role is Senior Distiller. It involves looking after our team of distillers and cellar hands and making sure the wheels of production keep turning. I do not have a standard 9-5 as each day brings new and unexpected challenges. Some days are spent dealing with bond stores, some in production or sometimes just good ol’ cleaning of the floor. Today I’m fixing our water filtration skid, so always something new.
- What is your favourite thing about working in the Australian whisky industry?
The unlimited creativity that allows us to flourish with new ideas, experimentation and innovation is one of my favourite things about working in Australia. The legal definition of what is classified as whisky is much broader than traditional old world whisky countries. This allows us to not be defined and limited to what we can produce. We can innovate within every area of the whisky making process and produce whisky that is truly unique. The raw ingredients within Australia allows us to make a quintessentially Australian whisky that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. An indigenous grain that has been cultivated, farmed experimentally, malted with a local wood and aged in eucalyptus casks? Sign me up.
- How long have you been in the industry?
I started working for my first distillery in 2014 in Western Australia which produced a corn whisky from The Wheatbelt. From then, I have been fortunate to achieve what most traditional distillers cannot, which is travel! Over my nine year career I have worked in Scotland, Tasmania and now Sydney.
- What led to your career in whisky?
A love for whisky of course! I had never planned to choose a career in whisky, but like most people, once you are in, it’s incredibly difficult to get out. The people, the passion and the community are all things that keep us coming back for more.
- What was your first sipiphany? What was that whisky that made you say “Yep, this is great stuff”?
While I had been a whisky drinker for a few years, the first time I saw a white whisky, it stopped me in my tracks. I remember seeing the Hudson Corn whiskey and my brain stopped functioning. How could a whisky be white? It made me reconsider everything I knew and evoked a new learning and appreciation of something I thought I was so familiar with. Still to this day, I call it my “Ah ha!” moment. It changed how I perceived whisky and led me on my new (not so new now) journey.
- Have there been any challenges you have faced working in the industry?
There have been many challenges throughout my career, from working in a male-dominated industry, working in a competitive field with limited positions to commissioning a brand new distillery during COVID! Every day brings new challenges which is why I say my job is not distilling, it is creative problem solving. One of the biggest challenges was just getting started so I always try to help any way I can for new people to enter the industry. Whether it is offering advice or having a chat about different pathways, I try to offer all that I wished I had before I started.
- What are some changes you would like to see in the industry for it to grow?
While there have been incredible changes within the last 10 years, there is still a long way to go in terms of inclusivity, diversity and accessibility within the industry. Still today, many members of the public are influenced by outdated marketing and a gatekeeping mentality. It is the task of every member in the whisky community to be welcoming, accepting and open-minded. Our focus should be on education, enjoyment and sharing the love of a good dram.
- What is an achievement you are proud of from 2022?
2022 was a challenging year which had many twists and turns. One of my achievements that I am incredibly proud of is the new distillery’s single malt and rye spirit officially becoming whisky. It was a massive accomplishment which told the success of commissioning through COVID and all the struggles associated with it. We worked without technicians on site and had to communicate through emails, phone calls and VR headsets to Belgium, Italy, Scotland and interstate. While there were long hours, a demanding workload and many mop and bucket moments, we accomplished it as a team and produced some amazing spirits. Some of which should hopefully be released in the near future.
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.