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DEBRA CLAYTON

We put a call-out to the women in Australian distilling to give us an insight into who they are, and why they chose this industry, here’s some of their responses!


DEBRA CLAYTON

Director and Co-Owner of Puss & Mew Distillery, VIC


HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY?


4-7 years.


WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN THE INDUSTRY?


I found the world of gin and whisky captivating and filled with diverse flavors and intriguing histories. The artistry of distillation, the alchemy of aging, and the endless array of botanical to experiment with is so exciting. Every bottle made reflects a unique journey of its creation. The cultural and historical contexts in which spirits have evolved is fascinating and I wanted to be a part of that world. We had a need to choose our own adventure in life, a desire to be creative in what we do in our lives and change it's course to become something completely our own and so we left our day jobs and began our journey in the industry.


YOUR MOST PROUD MOMENTS IN THE INDUSTRY?


Being crowned the Victorian Distiller of the Year in 2023 was our proudest moment. It was not expected and even to have been shortlisted amongst some of the best of the best in our industry was the most humbling experience.


WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND TO BE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN THE INDUSTRY?


Time! We have so many ideas and love experimenting and trying new things, however, between distilling, masterclasses, and running a venue there is just enough time to get some sleep if we are lucky!


WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE THAT KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT AUSSIE CRAFT SPIRITS?


The thriving community of distillers across Australia is dedicated to pushing boundaries and redefining traditions, resulting in an array of unique and daring concoctions that showcase the diversity of our country. We have the most beautiful native botanicals to be innovative and experimental with, each bottle tells a story of passion and artistry. The Aussie craft spirits continue to gain recognition on both domestic and international fronts and it is an exciting time to be a part of this. Unfortunately, the return on investment is not as great for us here then it is overseas. We need the support from Australians to keep the industry alive.


WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD WANT TO TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?


Don't sweat the small stuff it really is not worth your time and energy. Choose your own adventure, be happy in what you do and make a plan towards that. Listen more. Stay in the moment, its so fleeting and you can not re-create that time.


WHAT IS YOUR SPECIAL TALENT/PARTY TRICK?


Haha - Once upon a time I was a very talented swimmer. I love the water it's the only place I can completely switch off from the noise. I come up with my best ideas when floating in the water. I also have an expert Teacher Voice (also from my previous life) which can stop anyone from doing anything at anytime (also works well at a bar when you're trying to get people out on a Saturday night haha).


ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT US TO KNOW?


The most important thing for us is to give people an amazing experience, to share our adventure and story and the stories behind the history of distillation and spirit.


WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU THE MOST IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?


Lyn Lark, Lyn did all of the distilling work at Lark in the early days, she was the first to use native botanicals, into an Australian distilled spirit. She was the first full time distiller at Sullivans Cove. Lyn was a very hard worker and had a vision, she worked with Bill to create a legacy for her family. I'm sure it was not an easy path. She kept a low profile in the public eye and I admire her for all she has achieved.






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