This week, on Thursday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. Here at LBHQ, we couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to women than by featuring three of our all-time fave female role models - women who are absolutely killing the WA liquor game.
Who is Rebecca?
First up is Rebecca De Burgh (33), an up-and-coming Western Australian distiller working out of the Margaret River Distilling Co. Rebecca moved to Margaret River eight years ago after leaving the town of Naracoorte (only a stone’s throw from Coonawarra, SA) where she got her first start in the wine industry. She now enjoys our own state’s laid back down south lifestyle with her husband Slade and dog Fuego, when she’s not exploring new dimensions in distilling.
Rebecca landed her current job at the Margaret River Distilling Co. by chance when she was first introduced to the company’s founder and head distiller Cameron Syme, through a friend who worked there. The distillery had been operating for only a year and was looking for a replacement distiller after Rebecca’s friend was about to move to Glasgow to work in IT. “It was all a whirlwind from there but I’m happy to say I came on board soon after,” she said.
Rebecca began distilling in October 2016 and told us she instantly fell in love with the art from that point on. “The diversity, the craft and the innovations,” were all aspects of distilling which had immediately caught her interest. It's a dream come true for Rebecca. “It’s a craft (like beer and wine) which deserves passion, persistence and drive,” she said. “It’s challenging but just as rewarding.”
Australian Women in Distilling
Rebecca is also involved with the group the Australian Women in Distilling Association (AWDA) founded by Kristy Booth-Lark who has distilling thick in her blood, being the daughter of the great Australian legend - Bill Lark, Godfather of Whisky and London World Whisky Awards Hall of Famer. Bill Lark created Tasmania’s only malt whisky distillery in 1992 after the last licensed Tasmanian distillery closed its doors over 150 years earlier, and put Australia on the map by winning Best Single Malt at the World Whisky Awards in 2014. A family-run business, Bill’s wife Lyn and daughter Kristy both played integral roles in expanding the business. The AWDA, a group which Kristy later founded, is intended “… to promote awareness of the industry and to support women looking to become distillers. I’m hoping the organisation will become a place for women to find support, encouragement, inspiration and to celebrate other like-minded women in the Australian distilling industry,” explained Kristy in an interview with The Gin Queen.
Rebecca is now among great company as part of the next generation of Aussie women in distilling. Like Kristy, she now acts as a positive role model and leader for aspiring women involved in liquor.
Rebecca was raised in a publican household, her father ran a pub when she was a child. She spent six years working in various roles in wine including a Laboratory Technician, Cellar Hand and Cellar Door Sales over in SA before coming west. She told us the experience and knowledge she gained from her time in wineries, had proved invaluable moving into distilling.
Rebecca has completed a Bachelor of Business with a double major in Marketing and International Business at Edith Cowan University. “Although not directly linked to my career path, it has proven useful being that Margaret River Distilling Co. is a small family-owned business and so multitasking and shared jobs are always prevalent.” Looking back on her publican upbringing, Rebecca now sees her journey to where she currently is as “a natural progression”.
According to this West Aussie distiller, there are lots of exciting things going on at the moment in the local distilling universe such as distillers getting involved with our unique indigenous botanicals and the Margaret River Distilling Co.’s new Giniversity program. This is a local gin-distilling course aimed at embracing artistry and inspiration around the craft. The course is open to the public in Margaret River, hosted by Rebecca and her colleagues at the Margaret River Distilling Co. “There is so much happening, so many botanical trials underway and native ingredients really fascinate me. It’s a constant journey learning how botanicals react and the flavours they create,” she added.
Last week, Rebecca made her first malt whisky but explained how she could never choose her favourite spirit to produce because there was just too much innovation and creativity in the job. “I’m not a patient woman so it will be a test. Minimum two years in the barrel.” We asked Rebecca about her drink of choice, she told us she loves getting around some Giniversity Barrel Aged gin on ice with an orange twist.
Rebecca wants to encourage all women considering a career in liquor to take the plunge. “No matter how far it is out of your comfort zone, give it a go, you may surprise yourself,” she added.
You'll find a wide variety of The Margaret River Distilling Co.'s spirits available at your local Liquor barons. Come in to say 'Hi' and ask staff to help point it out!