Joanne Haruta

Founder/Partner, Lost Spirits Distillery

Joanne Haruta is an entrepreneur in the distilled spirits industry. As co-founder of Lost Spirits Distillery, she is the long-time business partner of innovative distiller and inventor Bryan Davis.

Raised in Salinas, CA, Joanne is a graduate of the Haas program at UC Berkeley. Early in her career, she founded an absinthe distillery in Europe; the spirit became the 4th largest absinthe in the US. It was sold in 2009; shortly after, Joanne co-created Lost Spirits Distillery to produce American whiskey and rum.

Joanne fell in love with peated single malt in her 20’s in Spain when tasting an early edition of Octomore. This inspiration led to the creation of peated American whiskies at Lost Spirits that were ahead of their time.

The more well-known releases are Leviathan I, Oroboros and Umami. Clocking-in at 110 PPM phenols, Leviathan I was ranked the 3rd peatiest malt in the world. Oroboros was also peated to 110 ppm but unlike Leviathan (made from Canadian Peat), Oroboros was produced using a peat harvested from a private island near the Sacramento Delta. The Lost Spirits team dug up the bog then used the chunks of California peat to smoke the grain. By contrast, Umami was lightly peated and the grain was fermented in Pacific Ocean sea brine. The resulting product was rated 94 points in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible and was last seen at auction for $1600. Though Leviathan I, Oroboros and Umami are now out of production, the experiments continue.

In March 2017, Lost Spirits was awarded industry patents that control the unique and unparalleled aging process of the distillery’s peated malts and obtained a multi-million-dollar funding deal to continue experimenting. Lost Spirits opened its new LA facility, which is fully automated and unlike that of any distillery on earth.

Current production includes the two Abomination expressions of peated malts that were imported from Islay and matured in toasted and/or charred casks specially prepared in France with a highly unusual maturation of Late Harvest Riesling. Jim Murray’s famous 2018 Whisky Bible awarded 94 points and its coveted Liquid Gold designation to Lost Spirits Abomination – Sayers of the Law, a peated malt “aged” in just 6 days utilizing Lost Spirits’ revolutionary patented technology. The distillery’s Abomination – Crying of the Puma expression nearly also achieved the Liquid Gold designation, scoring 93 points.

In addition to being a partner at Lost Spirits, Joanne is known as the “voice of reason” on the team.