How did you end up becoming a Distiller?

Initially I wanted to be an Air Traffic Controller (ATC), I even applied to go to air traffic control school (along with 3000 other people) and was lucky enough to be offered one of the 10 spots they had available. At that time, my eyes were opened to the (distilling) industry and I found myself looking at the distillery in a new light. I decided that ATC school was not for me and that I would rather be more involved in the family business and start taking on more of a production/distillation role. My parents were very supportive of that and threw me straight into it!!! I learned heaps about whisky and whisky making from my Dad (Bill Lark) and heaps about gin and liqueurs and how to make those from my mum (Lyn Lark). Learning how to distil from them was a great experience, and one could say it was destined as I grew up with a 500lt still outside my bedroom door!!

Why does distilling fill your cup?

I love it!! It’s great to be a second generation (female) distiller carrying on the traditions my parents started over 25 years ago. Like them I’m incredibly passionate about the industry, about being hands on and being able to personally handcraft my whisky, gin and other spirits. I love that I get to make things, that I have control over what I produce, what goes into the still, what comes out of it, how it is made. I enjoy the process, it really is a mixture of science, know-how and a little bit of magic thrown in for good measure. I take delight in making things that I can share, not only with my family and friends but with lots of other people as well. I am a creative person; I love to make things and for me distilling is a creative outlet where I can get my hands dirty and be involved in the process from beginning to end. It is really satisfying knowing I have made something great that can be enjoyed by lots of people. I hope that I can be an inspiration to other women wanting to get into the industry.

How are women impacting the distilling industry in Australia?

Women are a huge impact to the distilling industry; they bring to the table the other half of the equation. Women have different tastes, a different way of doing things and are a huge part of many of the smaller distilleries that are husband and wife businesses. They are an important part of the of distilling.

Describe yourself in four words

Passionate, determined, creative and fierce.

If you were a cocktail what would you be? A Boulevardier; strong and classic with a twist.  

What’s your favourite Killara Gin & what is the best way to enjoy it? My favourite Killara Gin is the new Barrel Aged Apothecary Gin which was aged in a whisky barrel for about 6 weeks. It is amazing! I love it over ice or with a dash of soda.

What would you say to women wanting to pursue a career in the Australian spirits industry?

Start, just start! Approach someone in the industry, see if you can intern somewhere and definitely read as much as you can. Get your RSA and volunteer to help for a day or a week. Take any opportunity you are given even if it’s not the area you want to end up in as it will be a stepping stone. This was one of the reasons I started the Australian Women in Distilling Association (AWDA), to promote awareness of the industry to women looking to enter into the distilling community and women within these activities to those outside the distilling industry. A place for women to find support, encouragement and to celebrate other like-minded women in the Australian distilling industry.

Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

My parents have had the biggest impact on my career, they gave me the opportunity to grow and learn and have been supportive of my journey from the start. Now though I’d say it’s my family as a whole that has had the biggest impact, I couldn’t do what I’m doing today without the support from my awesome husband Joe and our kids.

Favourite botanical to work with and why?

I really love Tasmanian Pepperberries, they are amazing, sweet but spicey and are super complex. They work really well on their own (I use on their own in my Bush Liqueur) and also are extremely complimentary when paired with other botanicals. I also love that they are only found in Tasmania.

The global theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘women in leadership’. What attributes do you feel make a good female leader. A great leader is one who leads by example, they motivate and inspire others are respectful but firm and empower others to do and be their best. I also think that one of the best attribute a female leader can have is the ability to support and raise up other women.