Lorelle Warren (1980)

I remember Queen’s College very fondly, I was straight out of school having completed my senior years at Geelong Grammar.  The whole experience of living away from home in the “Big Smoke” (Melbourne) – was initially a bit daunting but proved to be a wonderful experience. The comradery of the other students and the accessibility to the university were highlights.

The experience set me on an independent pathway, providing me with confidence outside the family unit and enhancing my interpersonal skills. This has held me in good stead throughout my life both professionally and personally.

I left university with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and entered the accounting world which was then a fairly male dominated profession. I worked for one of the larger accounting firms for a couple of years, overseas and in Melbourne, before returning to Geelong where I remained in the accounting private practice sector until I moved into management roles in the industry. Over the last 40 years the ratio has certainly evened up with female representation increasing.

My entry to the distilling world began in 2012 which at the time was heavily male dominated, although there were some standout distillers such as Lyn Lark from Tasmania (Lark Distillery) who was recently inducted into the Australian Distillers Hall of Fame, being the very significant silent achiever beside her husband Bill, who has been given most of the recognition over the years. The overall contribution of women in distilling is now being recognised and acknowledged. Our industry currently has Holly Klintworth as the president of the Australian Distillers Association, an admirable person to represent the growing and diverse distilling industry in Australia. I personally sit on the Spirits Victoria Committee which works collaboratively with the Victorian State Government to promote and grow the Victorian Distilling industry.  We are working hard to achieve major tax reform and provide opportunities for distillers not just in Victoria but throughout Australia. Some of the current head distillers in Victorian distilleries are women and they are achieving great results. I believe the current world position is one of the better times for women and diversity and hopefully this continues to improve.

For the past nine years, my husband Russ Watson and I have developed and are now running the Bellarine Distillery with its distillery door known as “The Whiskery” on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria.

Our distillery has grown from an idea over a few drinks (drams) to a fully operational distillery producing whisky and gin and has a distillery door experience (The Whiskery) which had 30,000 visitors come through the doors the last year.

Return to 50 Years of Women in Residence