Our Leading Lady on the Archie Rose Distilling Team: Samantha Stefani
We chat to our distiller Samantha Stefani about everything from experimenting with distilling seaweed to knock-offs at the end of the day.
Hey Sam, can you tell us about your role at Archie Rose?
As a distiller at Archie Rose, I’m responsible for all day-to-day activities related to the production of our whisky, gin, and vodka. I also assist in production development from improving various distillery processes, product improvement, and new product development.
How did you get started in distilling?
I went to Appalachian State University for Fermentation Science, concentrating on Brewing Science & Analysis with a minor in Chemistry. After graduating, I moved to Australia to be with my boyfriend and came across a distiller position at Archie and that was my first introduction into the world of distilling! Prior to working here, my only distillation experience was in a laboratory!
What’s the best part about your job?
Tasting all the spirits! I also love being a part of the entire process from start to finish, such as brewing the mash for rye or single malt whisky, fermenting, distilling, barrelling, ageing, and finally decanting.
What’s the worst part?
Probably not being taken seriously as an experienced distiller due to my age and gender. It is not uncommon for people outside of Archie Rose to seek out my male coworkers for answers or assistance rather than engage with me.
Have you had any mentors over the years that have helped you along the way?
Our former Head Distiller, Shane Casey, has been my mentor since day one at Archie Rose. He basically took me under his wing and taught me almost everything I know about distillation. He has always encouraged my pursuit of knowledge in the world of distillation and fermentation and pushed me to be the best distiller I can be. I have an enormous amount of respect for Shane and will always be grateful for the skills he has helped me acquire.
What’s your preferred knock-off drink at the Archie Rose Bar?
Buffalo Trace and PS Soda’s Wattle Seed Cola!
Hangover cures - are they a myth or a must-have?
Hangover cures are a definite must-have! I always start my night with a B12 vitamin and large glass of water BEFORE drinking and follow up the next day with a Bloody Matilda!
What do you think is the biggest barrier facing women who are looking to distilling as a career?
I think it’s the attitude surrounding this industry regarding females. Brewing and distilling are still generally considered a male-dominated industry and changing certain stereotypes can be challenging. As a woman, I think we always feel that we have to prove ourselves just a little bit more to gain the same amount of respect and acknowledgment as our male counterparts.
Which other women do you think are killing it in the industry?
Angela Andrews from Fleurieu Distillery, Genise Hollingworth from Black Gate Distillery, and Holly Klintworth from Bass & Flinders Distillery are absolutely smashing the game. I would also like to mention Kathleen Davies from Nip of Courage and the Aussie Tipple Company, who while she’s not a distiller herself, has been such a champion and supporter of female distillers in Australia.
What’s been your biggest achievement to date?
Being involved with the reformulation of our White Rye spirit which won a Masters Medal at the 2017 Global American Whisky Masters. Additionally, I have been chosen as one of four female Australian distillers to be represented on the bottle of an Aussie Tipple Co. bottled cocktail!
What are you experimenting with at the moment?
Currently we’re running numerous experimental (trial) distillations of “weird” native botanicals including Neptune’s necklace which is a type of seaweed and pigweed.
Finally, what’s your favourite Archie Rose spirit so far?
Hands down be the limited release Horisumi - Winter. It’s just so crisp, fresh, and perfectly balanced!