Whistling Sisters is a Scott Family project. The inspiration for our brewery and its name comes from Karen Louisa, our beautiful sister, daughter, and friend who passed away from breast cancer in April, 2015. To us, Whistling Sisters represents Karen’s strength and feisty positivity, and the importance of giving to a cause larger than ourselves.
Despite her diagnosis in 2011, Karen faced every challenge with determination, spunk and grace. Seeking proactive treatment and constantly researching her options, Karen became a powerful voice for others facing a similar situation. To honour Karen’s legacy and continue her work, we established The Karen Louisa Foundation in 2015, supporting research into advanced breast cancer.
Our family has worked in Wellington hospitality for over 50 years - our first homes were above bars and restaurants - it’s what brought us together and kept us close. We decided to create Whistling Sisters as a testament to Karen’s indomitable spirit, and as our way to support sisters and brothers across NZ in their fight against advanced breast cancer. 20 cents of every bottle you purchase goes to the Foundation, and we’re working on ways to scale that contribution as we grow.
At Whistling Sisters we brew fresh, local craft beer and pair it with unexpected food flavours. Our goal is to keep experimenting and creating new tastes - reasons to come together, savour and celebrate - because we believe life is best spent sharing with those closest to us.
Russel, Elwyn and Lisa Scott
The Scott family have been in the Wellington hospitality scene since the 1980s. First Russel and Elwyn created The Backbencher pub, filled it with puppets and started Wellington’s most fun political party. Then they turned a Christian book store into Irish pub the Black Harp, converted a hairdressing salon into Belgian beer café Leuven, and transitioned a Cuba Street sex shop into a Venetian Baraco called Ombra. Next came Chicago, a three story waterfront bar opened by Sir Peter Blake, and Flanagan’s, a Creole bar with flaming alligators out the front.
In 2016, Russel was inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Fame. And along the way Russel and Elwyn were joined by their younger daughter Lisa, who now runs Whistling Sisters marketing and manages the Karen Louisa Foundation, all while bringing up the next generation of future Welly restaurateurs - Jake, Molly and Jimmy.
Bede Roe has always been a beer guy. A longtime friend of the Scotts, Bede built his career working for big breweries from NZ to the UK, while dreaming of some day opening his own.
When Russel texted him on New Year’s Eve 2016 asking him if he wanted to finally start that brewery and help establish Whistling Sisters, it was an immediate yes from Bede (after he made sure it wasn’t too many glasses of bubbles talking). Bede and his wife Angie are now business partners with the Scotts, with Bede as the driving force and whistling brother behind brewery operations.
Dale has beer in his bloodline. His father was a DB brewery man, and Dale’s first job was at Eden Park cleaning beer tanks by getting inside and scrubbing them. He left beer for a while, qualifying as an engineer at university, but didn’t stay away for long, and ended up at brewing school in Western Australia. Since then he has sipped his way around the world and worked in breweries of all sizes in New Zealand and Australia.
Dale’s brewing philosophy is all about the journey - subtlety leading into layered flavours. He has a knack for brewing with herbs and spices, pulling inspiration from places like South East Asian cuisine, and style crossover experimentation where he blends old and new world European brewing techniques.
Lily grew up around hospitality. As a child in France she helped out in her Vietnamese Grandfather's restaurant. Lily joined the Scott clan when she came to New Zealand in 2010, working as Assistant Manager at Leuven before taking up the reins at the then-new venture Ombra. For five years there, Lily was the familiar face greeting customers with her French flair and vast knowledge and love of great food and wine. Now she's brought her energy and wealth of experience to the Fermentery.
Jonathan is our Chief of Taste and flavour gastronomy at the Fermentery restaurant bringing extensive expertise in food and beverage pairing. After starting his career in Colorado Spring, USA, Jonathan honed his skills at restaurants ranging from Asian and Mexican-American fusion, to contemporary French, and homestyle-inspired rustic cuisine before moving to New Zealand in 2017.
In addition to flavour experimentation, Jonathan brings a passion for nutrition to his creations with certificates in health coaching and personal training. And, he’s always gravitated towards beer; often organising food-beer matching dinners with local craft breweries and taking home several home-brewing awards in Colorado for Best Porter to style and original Mead recipe - watch out Dale!