Brooke Hayman is the owner and operator of Melbourne’s award winning and world renowned Whisky & Alement. She is also the reigning Australian Scotch Whisky Tasting Champion, having won the 2018 event.
Describe your job in five words
Travel, people, laughs, tasting, community.
What do you appreciate most in a whisky?
What do you appreciate least in a whisky?
Too much oak, butyric acid and a when price point doesn’t match the quality of the liquid.
What is your most treasured whisky?
Bunnahabhain. I’ve always had a soft spot for the buttery profile and playful cask finishes of this distillery!
What is your favourite virtue in a whisky bar?
Welcoming staff with a passion for the product. Anybody can serve drinks in a bar, but it’s something else to take a seat at a bar where the bartender has developed an encyclopaedic memory of their distilleries through travel, taste and experience.
What do you most dislike in a whisky bar?
Dirty glassware and a backbar dominated by brands supplied by one company.
If you could have any job in whisky, what would it be?
Give me any job, so long as I can take my team with me!
What is your favourite distillery name?
Craigellachie, because when I first discovered whisky I’d pronounce it incorrectly – ‘Crag-a-lack-ee’ not ‘Craig-ella-key’, like any true Aussie would.
Who is your hero in whisky?
John Teeling. He has single handedly changed the face of the Irish whiskey industry creating some of Ireland’s best tasting and most diverse whiskey and all without touching a single dram! He’s a tee-totaller which shows that you can be healthy and successful in our industry! I’d love to shadow this man for a month.
What is your idea of whisky happiness?
The David Beckham Haig Club advert with an Alan Mulvihill cameo. But if we’re talking in real terms, I love that moment when everyone in the room acknowledges a dram as excellent and the room is filled with excited chatter!
What phrase do you most overuse when talking about whisky?
Pork and duck fat. They’re the tasting note that I’m most sympathetic to.
When do you lie about whisky?
When someone relays incorrect information during an excitable conversation and I don’t want to rain on their parade by correcting them.
Who or what is the love of your whisky life?
My partner Julian White. For ten years we’ve travelled to distilleries around the world, hosted hundreds of tastings, tasted tens of thousands of whiskies and from him I’ve endured many Billy (Connelly) jokes. Without Jules I’d not have the balls to take on half of what I do and the journey to this point wouldn’t have been as fun.
What is your happiest whisky memory?
There are too many to count and for this I am so very lucky. 5am closes at the bar in 2010 when I could afford to drink cask strength Sullivan’s Cove French Oak old fashioneds for my knock off. I was so exhausted I’d fall asleep on the couch with my drink in hand. Those days were so rewarding teaching Melbourne about whisky for the first time and meeting so many incredible hospitality veterans that are today at the forefront of the whisky industry around the world.
Visiting the fifth generation president of Eigashima distillery and tasting Akashi 15-Year-Old before it was released around the world was a real honour considering Japanese culture.
Being introduced to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society through their annual Christmas dinner at the Atheneum Club in Melbourne with Chris Barnes’ addressing of the Haggis.
Winning the Australian Malt Whisky Championships. I still don’t think I deserve this, thank you Matt Bailey for encouraging us to fly to Sydney, and realising that I was one of only two women to ever win it. There are so many amazing women in the whisky industry and I can’t wait to see them grow within the industry in the future.
What is your saddest whisky memory?
Being told by the airline in Italy that checking in boxes of whisky was restricted. Luckily the airline manager was a whisky drinker and made an exception to the rule.
Who do you most admire?
Heather TIllot (distiller, Sullivans Cove), Angela Andrews (owner/distiller, Fleurieu Distillery) and Harriet Leigh (bar manager, Archie Rose). All amazingly positive women, passionate about learning and all charging forward in their respective areas.
Sherry cask or bourbon cask?
Bourbon. Sherry would be nothing without bourbon.
If you could work at one distillery, which one would it be?
Loch Lomond distillery as an apprentice to Michael Henry. The experience would be invaluable.
What is your greatest achievement?
Whisky & Alement. It’s been an incredible ten years. We’ve introduced over 10,000 Melburnians to whisky through our classes and countless others through the bar. It’s an absolute pleasure watching the community grow and I just love being surrounded by a team who are passionate about whisky.
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