Meet The Distiladies: 10 Woman-Owned Spirit Brands
It was a woman who discovered the predecessor of pot still (thank you, Mary the Jewess!), and it was women who made hooch before steam and inquisition came.
We’re all about supporting craft distillers, especially now that the bars are closed. To mark International Women’s Day and celebrate the distiladies that made the concept of fine Spirits possible, we’re taking a look at the female-owned Spirits brands you should know.
The list below highlights some of the women-owned drinks brands currently available at Flaviar. We encourage you to try more Spirits brands owned by women — not just for International Women’s Day but all year round.
1. Uncle Nearest - Fawn Weaver
Founded and led by Fawn Weaver, the first Black woman to run a major Whiskey brand, Uncle Nearest is the fastest-growing independent American Whiskey brand in U.S. history.
Uncle Nearest celebrates the forgotten legacy of Nathan Green and offers true Tennessee Whiskey. Fawn Weaver was inspired by the newfound tale of the first African-American distiller; she bought the legendary farm and built a distillery nearby.
Oh... did we not mention it is run by three women? Antonella, Elisabetta, and Cristina Nonino are guiding the company into the 21st century with modern marketing and artisanal equipment and procedures.
They’re responsible for some of the most important innovations in the Grappa industry, almost single-handedly revolutionizing a once poor-man's leftovers into a delicacy of the highest order. And—even rarer today—this producer is still family-owned and operated.
Carin Luna-Ostaseski was a web designer who was introduced to Whisky and fell for it hard. So, she trained as a bartender, interviewed experts, and set her mind to creating her own brand.
What does the modern, internet-savvy entrepreneur do to address such an expensive and risky proposition? That’s right… she launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2012, raising more than $45,000 to launch her dream. SIA Scotch Whisky was born as a perfect analogy for craft Whisky production in the modern era.
SIA — pronounced "see-ya" — means "six" is Scottish Gaelic. So, why did Carin name her Whisky Sia? Because it is her favorite number, that’s why.
4. Catoctin Creek - Becky Harris
Becky Harris is the co-founder of Catoctin Creek Distilling, the first legal distillery in Loudoun County, Virginia since Prohibition, making Becky the county's first female chief distiller in almost a century.
Before opening the distillery, Becky was a chemical engineer, and her husband Scott worked in software. It was Becky’s passion for the fermentation and distillation process that brought this couple out of corporate American and into your liquor cabinet.
From their little distillery by the creek, they produce a range of ten Spirits, including Rye Whiskies, Brandy, Gin, and a handful of other drams.
5. Hardy - Benedicte Hardy
If you are not yet familiar with the woman who walked away from a career as a maritime lawyer to head up Cognac powerhouse Hardy, meet the Queen of Eau de Vie.
With five generations of Cognac makers coursing through her blood, it’s safe to say she knows her stuff.
Allison Park owner and founder of Brenne Whisky is a former Prima Ballerina with a love of Whisky.
In 2012 she launched Brenne in New York, in collaboration with a third-generation French master distiller in Cognac, who was trained in the traditional art of Cognac distillation but harbored a secret love for Whisky. By respecting tradition and adding a little innovation into the distilling method, Brenne was born.
She created the world’s first Single Malt to be aged exclusively in both new French Limousin oak and Cognac casks, and her journey from the “barre” to the “bar” is as unique as her Whisky.
7. Crooked Water Spirits - Heather Manley
Heather Manley is the sole owner of Minnesota-based micro-distillery Crooked Water Spirits, which was the first Spirits company to be certified as woman-owned by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
Manley started the company in 2013 after noting the significant quality difference between micro-and macro-distilled Spirits.
She is among the small group of certified female Whisky sommeliers.
8. Virginia Distillery Company - Angela Moore
Angela Moore, owner and chairwoman of the board at Virginia Distillery Company was greatly influenced by her husband to enter the Spirit industry.
The late Dr. George G. Moore was a native Irishman, living in his adopted home Virginia with a passion for distilling with a vision of creating a unique, quality hand-crafted American Whiskey. In 2011, after her husband founded the distillery, Moore decided she wanted in, too.
After all, as an immigrant from Northern Ireland, Whiskey has always been in her blood. She carries George’s legacy forward by reinventing American Single Malt Whisky.
Every barrel is a culmination of the world’s finest distilling, aged to perfection in the ideal climate of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
9. Rabbit Hole - Heather Bass
Heather Bass started enjoying Bourbon in college. Years later, she deepened her appreciation for the Spirit itself and opened Rabbit Hole Distillery with her husband, luring him away from his beloved Scotch.
After doing some experimenting, he got the bug to make it himself. It was Heather who came up with the company’s name, Rabbit Hole, an apt description of the journey they soon would be taking. The rest was history!
Their Bourbon and Rye Whiskeys are 100% Kentucky-made, hand-crafted to create a unique drinking experience. This award-winning waterfront distillery has put Rabbit Hole Whiskey on the map.
10. Bertha González Nieves - Casa Dragones
"The lady of Tequila", is the co-founder and CEO of Casa Dragones Tequila Company. She is also the very first Master Tequilera and among the 50 most powerful women in Mexico.
She believes the Tequila industry is a "growth industry that could further enrich her country culturally and economically."
Gonzáles Nieves crafted Casa Dragones to be deeply committed to handcrafted, small-batch production which affords them the luxury of applying meticulous attention and detail into their product.
As she says: "We're in the business of taste, not in the business of volume."
More about the importance of women distillers through the history of Spirits in the video below.
Cheers to all the ladies of the still! Every time you sip on one of the drams above, remember that women are more proficient in identifying flavors and aromas due to having 50% more olfactory neurons than men. It’s science.