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Meet Josee
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Meet Josee

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is “Embrace Equity” and that got us thinking - gender equity isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must have.

Whisky distillers are often portrayed in television, movies and books as men with big beards and flannels. While that may be true for some (we have a couple), we wanted to introduce you to Josee - one of our distillers and one of the women driving the Canadian craft spirits industry.

Q. What led you to working in craft spirits?

My background is mainly in the medical field, where I worked in research and clinical settings for 28 years. One of my passions is climbing mountains as I wanted to reach the seven summits. I met my partner on a climb. He owned a distillery in Quebec where he was making brandy from apples in their orchard. He was the first person in Quebec to obtain a license to operate a micro-distillery.

I started working with my partner at the distillery and I did not know much about the industry at all but he had total confidence in me. I met chemists from the S.A.Q, I went to France and Italy to learn more about the transformation of the apple to spirit. I soon became in charge of all of our products. We won several spirit contests worldwide so I assume I was doing a decent job! After that I decided to go back to medical research in the USA.

In 2020, the Covid pandemic impacted the world and the brewing industry was hit hard. Distilleries were exploring production of a new and vital product - Hand Sanitizer. Top Shelf Distillers at that time needed help to augment their production to include Hand Sanitizer. I came all the way to Perth and have never left. That’s when the creation of whisky started for me. Life is meant for acquiring different experiences and I like to say that I took care of people for 28 years and now I am making them happy!  

Q. What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in the craft beverage industry

I believe that if you have the knowledge and the capabilities to do a job, regardless of if it’s a male dominated job or not, there should not be any reason to let any obstacles influence what you really want to do with your career and your life.

Q. Was there a moment where you felt “this is it, I love making craft spirits” ?

Knowing that people appreciate the result of your creation is always a nice reward. It’s nice to make people happy and know that they enjoy drinking your hard work.

Q. Tell us what a day at the distillery looks like for you?

I start my day by doing a mash and a distillation as those things take the whole day to accomplish. Multi tasking is a big part of my job. I am always thinking about tasks that are happening at the same time and I have to ensure that those are all done correctly

I am often doing trials for new products. It could be a new cream liqueur, barrel-aged gin or trying different grains and malt for our whisky. We make a really wide variety of products. Sometimes we have to deal with unexpected things and I like to see it as a challenge as I believe that the greater the obstacle the more glory you take out of overcoming it!

Q. What advice would you give other women with an interest in distilled spirits who are considering a career in this industry.

If this is what you want to do, then definitely go for it. There are more and more women joining this industry. Always follow your interest and instinct and as I once read, “If you like what you are doing, then you will never work a day".

Q. What is your favourite spirit?

 I enjoy a peated Scotch by Ardbeg.



March 31, 2023 at 12:01 PM

If Josee likes a nip of Ardbeg, then I trust her to make your whisky!

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