hall of fame
As we take the opportunity to look back and reflect on all the positive things the industry has achieved since its revitalization we are honoured to induct the founding members of the Australian Distillers Association into the organisation’s Hall of Fame.
The Committee hopes the Hall of Fame will be an achievement members will aspire to, as the industry continues to grow and mature.
Below are the videos from the conference of our wonderful inductees accepting their awards.
The fifth inductee into the Australian distillers Hall of Fame, is a person of great integrity and quiet standing. This person shies away from acknowledgement or public recognition of their work. Which I think is testament to their great sense of humbleness.
Of course, writing a speech like this, requires one to do some research and examine the public record. My search for this individual does not reveal anywhere near the achievements or contribution to the Australian distilling industry over 2 decades.
Executive summary - person 1 - This person is feisty, honourable, and is of great intellect and wisdom. At the same time, remaining, incredibly good-humoured and smart witted.
As I mentioned, super quiet in the public eye, I had to dig deep and go “private eye” to get a full understanding of the role they played.
This inductee into the Hall of Fame, has held some of the most significant distilling roles in the industry, and has worked at some of the most recognisable names in Australian Distilling. In my view their role has, up to this point, been massively understated and under recognised.
Today we attend to that.
I am, of course, referring to Lyn Lark.
When Lark Distillery was licensed in 1992. Bill Lark, a legend in his own right, was surveying full time. Lyn was doing all of the distilling work at Lark. Yes folks, The first distiller in the modern Australian distilling renaissance was - a woman. Lyn single-handedly and in a brave new world, where there was no one local to talk to, developed all of the Lark stable of botanical spirits. The first use of native botanicals, into an Australian distilled spirit. the Tasmanian native pepper berry, - But not King Island Kelp, so I hear.
Everyone who now incorporates Australian botanicals into their product, owes Lyn a tip of their hat. I say, every time you see her.
In 1995 Sullivans Cove employed Lyn as distiller. I have it on good authority Lyn was the first full time distiller at Sullivans Cove.
At this time Lyn would have to deal with 5 wash and 2 spirit runs a week. A fair weeks work for 2 stills. But Lyn was doing this in 1 still and 4 days a week. 7 runs in 4 days.
All the modern distillers in the room - you need to lift your game. Lyn worked 24 hours a day for 4 days every week with Bill popping in after work (illicitly) to cover the stills while Lyn went home for a shower and a meal. I searched my mind for a word to describe Lyn’s work ethic, and I can only think of one - superhuman.
Beyond this, I know Lyn is not afraid to ‘stick it to the man’. And I would say, don’t mess with Lyn. I heard a story from someone overhearing Lyn dealing with a public servant, who was chasing Lyn for confidential information. You know, like turn over and financials, to be anonymised and made public. When you’re the only distillery, that’s not going to be very confidential. So my informant tells me, Lyn bins these stat reports.
Of course, the Call comes to tell Lyn to complete the stats form. Obviously that call got a bit heated as Lyn gets threatened with Jail as a possible consequence if she doesn’t comply. In quick reply, Lyn’s retort was ‘you do that, you’ll make my day, I want a holiday.’
Lyn has helped a lot of people develop gin recipes. The Best words of advice Lyn gave me - which I have passed onto many, was - If you like it and you’re proud of it, People will believe you.
The Bush Liqueur that was first released at the Deloraine Craft Fair in 1996 (I hear that was also the night that Jack was conceived - But I had nothing to do with that). at that time all the bottles were hand dipped in wax and had a ribbon seal that took agesssss to apply. Who’s been there? I have.
That started a yearly pilgrimage to the craft fair for 20 years.
Let’s not forget, Lyn was also a mother this whole time.
Character - I asked for Family views and was told Lyn is a massive support to Bill and enables his crazy ideas. I heard Lyn would probably have been fined for moonshining or bootlegging, but Bill wanted to do things right and get a license, so Lyn made sure it worked out properly!
Undoubtedly, Lyn was the backbone that held everything together and was equally part of the team along with Bill.
Lyn has now turned her hand to non-alcohol distillation, and has planted heaps of damask roses at Killara, her daughter Kristy’s estate, and late last year would go in at 6am and pick the roses then spend all day distilling them for oil and hydrosol. She did that for the whole of the flower season. You’ll be pleased to know she has her still registered!
So, Lyn hasn’t quite left the industry but is quietly pursuing other aspects of it.
In acknowledgement of the black dog talk yesterday, and the need to have outside interests - let’s not forget Lyn is also an amazing grandmother to 5 grandkids, knitting up a storm for them and showering them with all the Granny love.
Inductee No 6 into the Australian distillers Hall of Fame is a gentleman who I am sure you will all know well. This speech was easier to prepare as all I had to do was lift their public speaking profile.
This person has a Diploma of Wine Marketing (Adelaide), and a Master of Marketing (Melbourne) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Ladies and gentleman I cannot hide it. Because this person is in the media all the time. It is none other than our dear immediate past president Stuart Gregor.
Stu’s background is journalism, small business, drinks and communications – having written multiple wine guides, (you geek) founded Australia’s leading lifestyle public relations business Liquid Ideas, and worked closely with a couple of Australia’s most innovative and disruptive not-for-profit start- ups – RUOK? Day and OzHarvest.
This next part comes from his public speaking profile, so I take no credit. Over recent years Stu has also earned a reputation as an MC, auctioneer, commentator and occasional speaker on the subject of himself… and some of his more colourful exploits; particularly in the worlds of gin, marketing, small business, journalism and what it takes to turn a passionate hobby (drinking) into a viable business career.
In the world of public relations, he founded Liquid Ideas in 2000, was the inaugural Chair of the Public Relations Council (2012-2014) and the PR industry Leader of the Year in 2014. Liquid Ideas has won multiple awards and widespread recognition for its campaigns for clients as diverse as Singapore Airlines, Victoria Bitter, RUOK? Day, Canadian Club and Rexona.
He sat on the board of Australia’s leading food waste organization Oz Harvest from 2012-2019 and is co-owner of luxury travel firm Gregor & Lewis, with his sister Melinda.
At the First ADA conference Spike, another legend, asked Stu to stop cursing. A person who was there said It was like Stu had found religion. That person had never seen him struggle to speak in public.
Four Pillars has a saying - I put a bug in their staff room - Cam makes gin, Matt makes sense and Stu makes us famous.
From day one Stu pushed Four Pillars to become a world class gin with a global footprint. This is the same for the entire Australian industry. He would be the first to say that we have a place on the world stage and should be represented in bars and retailers across the world.
He’s a born connector and has the ability to become your mate easily and quickly through either booze or sport or family. Within 10 minutes of meeting him you’ll feel like you’ve known him for years.
He knocks down doors and simply won’t take no for an answer.
He is always encouraging distillers to think bigger and invest in their businesses. Much like the ADA - grow, invest and rally the troops.
During his time as president, Stu had endless trips to Canberra and conversations with government at all levels. Such is the class of this man, that even when he falls asleep next to the Prime Minister he makes it look professional.
Stu recently had knee replacements. His knee replacements are not the result of years of high level rugby - he simply spent too much time on his knees begging the government for excise relief.
No one champions a cause like Stu and he is someone you want in your corner at all times.
He is sometimes the squeakiest of wheels and no amount of oil can make it stop, until he sees progress.
He has an endless list of charities he champions - Starlight Foundation, R U OK Day, OzHarvest…and so much more. Obviously, a man of integrity. Four pillars wouldn’t be the same without him and neither would the ADA.
He is generous, funny, possibly argumentative at times, tireless and definitely not very woke. Allegedly, he can be as annoying as hell. But if he has an opportunity to take the piss out of himself he will. He loves being the centre of attention but will hate being the subject of this attention despite thoroughly deserving it.
Stu is a father of two based in Sydney who follows every code of sport imaginable with a particular love for the mighty Sydney Swans, Eastern Suburbs Roosters and the Wallabies.
Raymond 'spike' dessert the third.
The dearly departed Raymond ‘Spike’ Dessert The Third is remembered as the industry’s True Believer, yarn spinner and heart and soul of the Australian Distillers Association.
In 1972, Spike landed near Kununurra in the remote Kimberly outback to develop his seed business. After falling in love with the area, he decided to make it his home.
In 1995, inspiration struck and Spike built Western Australia’s oldest continuously operating – and legal still.
Hoochery Distillery was born, and Spike joined the ranks of Australia’s first craft distillers.
As one of the four founders of the Australian Distillers Association, Spike was adamant about good governance, treating people with respect, and creating a great and viable Australian distilling industry.
For a long time, nothing really happened with the association, but Spike just kept paying his fees, confident that good things were coming.
Even when others wanted to fold it, Spike knew the association would be integral one day, and after the historic ruling last year that provides eligible distillers a full rebate of any excise paid up to $350,000 – along with countless other achievements along the way – it seems Spike was right.
His proud daughter, Kalyn Fletcher, reliably informs us that Spike would have tipped his hat with a smile at all the great achievements of this wonderful industry
Since Spike’s passing in 2017, Kalyn has continued his legacy and taken over the reins at Hoochery Distillery.
To this day, they use Spike’s still to make their world class rum, gin and liqueurs
When Bill established Lark Distillery in May 1992 with his wife, Lyn, it was the first such licence issued in Tasmania since 1839.
In 2008, he became a founding director of Starward Distillery (then known as Victoria Valley Distillery) and in 2012, he co-founded Old Kempton Distillery (then known as Redlands Distillery) in the Derwent Valley.
At the Tasmanian Tourism Awards 2013, Bill was named ‘Minister’s Champion’.
In 2014, Lark Distillery was awarded Telstra Tasmanian and Australian Small Business of the Year.
In 2015 he was personally awarded the Hospitality Minister’s Award for Excellence for ‘Contribution to the Industry’. Also in 2015, he was named the 28th inductee of the World Whisky Awards Hall of Fame in the United Kingdom. Bill was the first Australian to be bestowed such an honour.
He has acted as a judge in several Australian Spirit Awards and in February 2019, was appointed Head Judge for the inaugural Australian Gin Awards and Head Judge for the Tasting Australia Spirit Awards in South Australia.
Bill continues to consult to distilleries across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and is also Global Brand Ambassador for Lark Distilling Company.
A founding member of the Australian Distillers Association and The Tasmanian Whisky Producers Association, Bill has mentored many throughout their craft distilling adventures.
His generosity of spirit in sharing his advice and wisdom with newcomers to the industry has inspired a truly collegiate environment which has thrived on continuous improvement and knowledge exchange.
Patrick Maguire is credited as elevating Australian single malt whisky on the world stage. He is one of the founders of the modern Australian whisky industry and was, until recently, a part owner, manager and the head distiller of Sullivan’s Cove Distillery.
Patrick headed up the team that took the brand from obscurity to one of the leading Tasmanian and Australian whisky brands.
The recipient of numerous international awards for his single malts including, World Whiskies Awards, World’s Best Single Malt in 2014 and World’s Best Single Cask Single Malt in 2018 and 2019, he was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame in 2018 and Icons of Whisky Australia. In 2021, he was also named Master Distiller and Blender of the Year.
Patrick is an inaugural member of both the Australian Distillers Association and the Tasmanian Whisky and Spirits Association.
For those of you that have bumped into Patrick at the conference today, you may have noticed he is sporting the name of a brand new distillery on his name badge.
We all look forward to seeing what ‘Maguire and Co. Bottlers and Distillers’ achieves as you embark on your next distilling adventure.
Cameron is the owner of three of Western Australia’s award-winning distilleries – the Great Southern Distilling Company in Albany, Giniversity in Margaret River, and Tiger Snake Distillery in Porongurup.
His spirits have been awarded over 150 medals and trophies in international spirit competitions over 14 consecutive years, including the first Gold Medal for an Australian Spirit in the UK’s International Wine & Spirit Competition.
Icons of World Whisky UK recognised Cameron as Australian Distillery Manager of the Year in 2018 and his distilleries as Australia’s Distillery of the Year in 2019. His Limeburners Whisky has twice won the trophy as World’s Best International Craft Whisky at the World’s largest spirit competition, the USA’s ADI.
An inaugural member of the Australian Distillers Association, Cameron was also its founding President, a position he held until 2010.
His long-standing contribution to the Association has assisted many Australian distillers throughout their journeys in the industry.