• Maria Georges

Women-Owned Spirit Brands You Should Know That are Shaking Up the Industry

Most female spirit founders share a common belief- that the name brands were not catering to them. After all, shouldn't the spirits women are enjoying be as diverse and unique as the people enjoying them?


Historically, the spirits industry has been dominated by men, their contributions immortalized by iconic masculine bottles, many that bear their names. But thankfully, over the last few years, an increase in women-owned spirit brands is closing the gap.

A report by The Spirits Business cited Constellation Brands statistics that states, "female-led businesses are the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurship in the U.S. and generate two times the revenue per dollar versus the average non-women-owned businesses." However, only 3% of venture capital funding goes to female-led companies.


Collectively, we can help change that. But how?


We are all creatures of habit, but why not expand beyond your everyday drink of choice and try one of these women-owned spirit brands instead. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find these brands can go head to head against any of the brands you are currently sipping. Moreover, you are supporting small businesses and these women who are out there hustling to compete in this tough, male-dominated industry.

So, cheers to all these bad-ass ladies who are shaking up the spirits industry!


VITANI PRE-MIXED COCKTAILS

With the rise of widely popular pre-mixed cocktails, we must begin here. Pre-mixed cocktails have become a staple for outings and parties but do you really know what you are drinking? Those popular ready-to-drink cocktails are not created equal and, in some cases, may not be what you thought they were either.

For example, you probably assume your hard seltzer is vodka-based, especially if it is by a vodka brand; well, guess again, most are actually malt-based. Yes, that's right.


And something else that must be noted- most pre-mixed cocktails are merely fruit-flavored sparkling water with a splash of alcohol totaling an average of 5% alcohol per volume.


But, there is one pre-mixed cocktail brand on the shelf that is actually a restaurant-quality, additive-free, and gluten-free premium cocktail- at 17% alcohol no less- and that is Vitani.


For Vitani Founder Jackie Gichner, Dirty Martinis were her drink of choice when out with friends but making them at home was challenging, and they rarely turned out as well. So she decided to create the perfect martini that replicated the bartender experience but in a simple, convenient, and perfectly pre-mixed bottle that you can enjoy any time.


Their unique recyclable aluminum bottles also make Vitani shelf-stable- making these the clear winner amongst the plethora of pre-mixed cocktails.


Vitani cocktails include Dirty Martini, Cosmo Martini, Elderpear Martini, and Moscow Mule. Not available online (yet) but, if you are in Illinois, Minnesota, or New Jersey, be sure to look for Vitani at your local store and enjoy!



INSPIRO TEQUILA

Founder Mara Smith, a busy mom of three, was looking for a cocktail she could enjoy with her friends that would allow her to wake up the next day without any lingering effects so she could hit the ground running. She discovered tequila as a better spirit to fit into her active, gluten-free lifestyle.


However, she felt there were no tequila brands that really spoke to her as a consumer. Everything on the shelves seemed masculine, yet more and more women chose tequila as their drink of choice. She saw an opportunity to innovate tequila- to target women and what they were looking for; a natural, clean, additive, and sugar-free spirit that fit into their lifestyles.


And so, amidst a pandemic, Mara worked diligently and created the perfect tequila, Inspiro Luna Blanco Tequila. Inspiro is 100% Blue Weber Agave Blanco tequila that has been certified additive-free by Tequila Matchmaker.


Read more about Mara in this month's TSC interview. Cheers and best wishes to Inspiro Tequila!



FREELAND SPIRITS

Jill Kuehler is the Founder of Freeland Spirits – a female-founded, owned, and operated craft distillery in Portland, Oregon, and is one of the very few women-owned and run distilleries in history. Freeland has a grain-to-glass philosophy and creates superior spirits that celebrate all the Northwest has to offer. Starting with locally farmed grains and herbs, Molly Troupe, the Master Distiller, commands perfection with every spirit she creates using a state-of-the-art vacuum still to blend unique botanicals with cucumber, rosemary, mint, and thyme to produce their signature gin.


Their signature gin, and now their new bourbon, are presented in beautiful, distinctive bottles, which were custom-designed to match the elegance of their small-batch spirits.



HARRIDAN VODKA

Move over, boys, there's a new boss in town taking over the Vodka market, and she is going bold! Female-founded, over-proof strength, 88 percent to be exact, Harridan Vodka is calling on the "modern, spirited, and feminist drinkers who the industry has historically ignored."

Harridan, which means "bossy, belligerent old woman," is the answer to the industry's misalignment with women. Founder Bridgette Taylor says, "This is our way of saying we hear you and we see you. I wanted to create something that spoke to those who push up against what this industry and what culture more broadly tells us we should like."


With meticulous attention to quality and detail, Harridan Vodka is crafted in upstate New York using only organic, gluten-free ingredients grown by fifth-generation farmers and then bottled in handblown artisan recycled glass bottles.



UNCLE NEAREST

Founder Fawn Weaver was inspired by the tale of the first African-American distiller, Nathan Green, a former slave, who by all accounts taught Jack Daniel everything there was to know about whiskey distillation.


To honor his forgotten legacy, Weaver bought the legendary farm once owned by Dan Call, where Green was a slave and taught the neighbor Daniel how to make whiskey- and was home to the original Jack Daniel's distillery. Weaver built her own distillery and began producing authentic Tennessee Whiskey. Boom!

As the first Black woman to run a major Whiskey brand, Uncle Nearest, is the fastest-growing independent American Whiskey brand in U.S. history, now sold in almost 50 states and more than 4,000 locations worldwide.



Alison Parc, Founder Brenne French Single Malt Whiskey
Alison Parc, Brenne French Single Malt Whiskey

BRENNE FRENCH SINGLE MALT WHISKEY- COGNAC

Launched by a former ballerina Alison Parc, who loves whiskey, Brenne French Single Malt Whisky was created and is produced at a small farm distillery in Cognac, France. Parc collaborated 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 harvesting 100% organic barley grown at his farm in Cognac, respecting tradition, and adding a little innovation into the distilling method, Brenne was born. Brenne is the only organic French Single Malt Whisky currently in production.




Carin Luna-Ostaseski, SIA Scotch Whiskey

SIA SCOTCH WHISKEY

Carin Luna-Ostaseski is one of the first Hispanic founders of a scotch whisky. She is a self-proclaimed whiskey connoisseur who had sampled over 300 whiskies and scotches before launching SIA Scotch Whiskey.




But her purpose behind the brand is bigger than merely competing in this man-dominated industry. She is challenging the status quo by inspiring and supporting women entrepreneurs through her Entrepreneurial Spirit Fund. SIA Scotch Whisky knows that hard work and perseverance are important but sometimes, you also need a little help from people who believe in you and your dreams. Inspired by Luna-Ostaseski's journey as a Hispanic entrepreneur, the grant program offers recipients the opportunity to be matched with the capital, resources, and mentorship needed to make their dreams a reality.


SQUARE ONE SPIRITS

Allison Evanow is the female founder of Square One Spirits, a boutique organic spirits company whose philosophy is to bring the best organic ingredients from the field to your glass.


Square One's unique flavor-infused vodkas include cucumber, basil, bergamot citrus, and their signature botanical, which is a bold (90 proof) organic rye spirit infused with the essence of eight organic botanicals: pear, rose, chamomile, lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, coriander, and citrus peel.


A perfectly balanced harmony of fruit, floral, and herb botanicals, these spirits give added taste complexity to your favorite vodka cocktail.



HEIMAT

Ute Londrigan grew up in Germany, helping her grandmother make homemade fruit liqueurs. When she and her family moved to Westchester, NY, she started making them for family and friends.


Londrigan says there is no proper translation of Heimat in English. "The dictionary may say 'homeland,' but it's so much more than that. Heimat describes the feeling about where you are from, where your roots are."


Londrigan uses the same recipes her grandmother (Oma) used, which were handed down in her family for the past century. These delicate, delicious liqueurs are a true labor of love. Handcrafted from local New York farmers, the collection of liqueurs are seasonal, so she only makes them when the fruits are at their ripest. Seasonal whole fruits- no fruit juice, no additives, colors, or preservatives, is what makes Heimat unique and simply delicious.


This season's liqueurs are Elderflower, Rhubarb, Blackberry, White Peach, Nectarine, Rasberry, Cranberry, and Bosc Pear. Click this link to see Londrigan's mixing suggestions.


MCBRIDE SISTERS COLLECTION

The McBride sisters' path to winemaking is a story that is seeped in destiny. Robin and Andréa, who are half-sisters, were raised on opposite ends of the globe, one in Monterey, California, and the other in Marlborough, New Zealand- as it turns out, two of the world's most iconic wine-growing regions. When they finally came together in 2005, they found their shared passion for wine.


Their background in wine prompted their desire to shake up the industry by creating the McBride Sisters Collection. They have become recognized as two forward-thinking women leaders in the spirits industry that have defied the odds of both race and gender.


The sisters have not only built up the largest Black-owned wine company in the U.S. but also one of the most inclusive, accessible, socially aware, and sustainable brands on the market today.


As a personal tribute to Black women, the sisters created the Black Girl Magic collection, a wine inspired by the magic and resilience of Black women. And in the spirit of giving back and lifting up, they recently launched SHE CAN, wine in a can. SHE CAN is a professional development fund, which awards scholarship money to promote the advancement of women in the wine business.



LORENZA ROSÉ

This mother-and-daughter team self-funded their own dream to create a dry, real rosé in California. Lorenza Rosé was founded by Melinda Kearney, a wine industry veteran from Napa Valley, and her daughter Michèle Lorenza Ouellet, an international fashion model with the shared love for a Provençal Rosé.


The duo's mission is to produce a gorgeous rosé that inspires joy and indeed they have! Their California Rosé is a delicate, dry, low alcohol, beautifully balanced, and delicious wine that rivals any Provencal Roses- and for half the price.


Please Drink Responsibly.