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SAMANTHA STEFANI

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!


SAMANTHA STEFANI

Distiller at Banks & Solander Distillery, NSW


HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY?


8-12 years


WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN THE INDUSTRY?


"During my freshman year at university, all first year students had to take a first year seminar type course. There was a huge array of different topics to pick from and I chose Fermented Foods thinking "food yum!." The course was a lot more scientific than I was expecting, but I loved every class and towards the end of the semester, my professor suggested I switch my major from International Business to Fermentation Science since I was enjoying the course so much. From there I got a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation with a concentration on Brewing Science & Analysis and a Minor in Chemistry. When I graduated, I thought I was going to become a beer brewer, but quickly came to realize I didn't really like beer that much! Luckily, Archie Rose was hiring for an Assistant Distiller position and from there I completely fell in love with distilling/spirits."


YOUR MOST PROUD MOMENTS IN THE INDUSTRY?


"My proudest moment thus far has been playing a pivotal role in helping to build and grow Banks & Solander Distillery. Being able to contribute to the business and witnessing the tangible impact of my efforts has been incredibly rewarding. What makes this achievement even more special is the collaboration and teamwork involved. Working for Marty & Ed Svehla, the owners of Banks & Solander, who share the same passion and vision has been both inspiring and fulfilling. Together, we have tackled numerous challenges, celebrated wins, and created something we are really proud of. Knowing that my contributions have played a role in Banks & Solander's success fills me with a tremendous sense of accomplishment."


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


"Finding a space on the shelf amongst all the large, international brands. The large, global companies are able to offer lower prices, better deals, promotions, sponsorships, contracts, etc. that we, as a small craft distillery, cannot compete with."


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


"How incredibly tasty they are! Our spirits are some of the best in the world and we have some of the most innovative and talented distillers doing amazing things."


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


"Don't be so tough on yourself and focus on the positives."


WHAT IS YOUR PARTY TRICK?


"Having survived the cultural clash of attending Uni in the South and being raised by two parents from New Jersey, I've honed my skills in perfecting both southern drawls and Jersey accents! You can say I've mastered the art of saying 'fuhgeddaboudit' with a twang."


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


"Shane Casey has been my mentor since the beginning of my Australian distilling career. He's got so much knowledge and skill in the industry and always goes above and beyond to give guidance and help to anyone who needs it. Additionally, Shane's belief in my potential has had a massive impact on my self-confidence. During times of self-doubt, he's been there to offer encouragement, constructive feedback, and support. His belief in my abilities has given me the courage to take risks, push past my limits, and pursue my goals."

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