The alcohol industry might currently be a male-dominated one, but the cracks are slowly showing in the proverbial glass ceiling. Each year, more and more women-owned producers are breaking through and finding success. To celebrate women in our industry, we’ve put together a list of our favorite women-owned spirits and alcohol brands you can pick up to diversify your beverage program.
The largest Black-owned wine producer in the United States, the McBride Sisters have made breaking down barriers into their calling card. Their wines balance affordability and quality, providing delicious options that won’t break the bank. The pair offer wines from all over the world, and have recently begun to break into the ever-growing canned wine category, as well.
Before founding BuzzBallz, Merrilee Kick was a high school piano teacher. While grading papers, she had a craving for a nicely-made cocktail. She knew that she didn’t want a malt beverage, which was what most of the other RTD options were at the time, and just like that (plus a few extra steps) BuzzBallz was born.
Since then, Buzzballz has quietly become one of the biggest players in the RTD cocktail game. With over 15 varieties, including takes on the pina colada, margarita, vodka-cran and more, there’s a Buzzball to fit anyone’s taste. The company is also known for their unique spherical packaging, which is entirely recyclable but also engineered to break down quickly in landfills.
When Bronya Shillo founded Fisher Island Lemonade (FIL) in 2014, the RTD segment was barely even a thing. Consumers were wholly unfamiliar with the idea of a RTD cocktail, but that didn’t stop Shillo.
Over the past 8 years, the company has been breathing new life into the hard lemonade category. FIL uses all-natural juices and premium spirits to create refreshing, easy-drinking RTD options. Perhaps reminiscent of an elevated Long Island Iced Tea, FIL products are made for days on the beach. Combine this quality-first sensibility with chic, New England-inspired packaging, and you’ve got the perfect product.
A longtime homebrewer, Cayla Marvil found herself increasingly inspired by the early stages for the craft brewing movement. With a strong work it and a self-described ‘screw it’ attitude, Cayla and her husband founded Lamplighter Brewing Co. In 2020, the couple were named to Forbes’ 30-Under-30 in the Food and Bev category.
Today, Lamplighter Brewing Co produces aroma-packed and flavor-driven beers. The brewery focuses on New England IPAs, barrel-aged sours and special seasonals. By creating small batches of each brew, Lamplighter is able to explore the wacky and weird side of craft beer.
One of the most premium entrants on our list, OAX produces Mezcals with undeniably gorgeous packaging. Tepeztate is one of the rarest agaves in the world, so the bottles are particularly fitting for this special beverage. Founded by Laura Giraudo, OAX is a must-buy for tequila lovers—or admirers of good design.
As a hobbyist home brewer, Mel Heim had spent years learning the brewing and distilling processes before officially going into business. She also worked closely at Rogue Brewing, where she further perfected her craft.
Launched in 2021, Big Nose Kate is an ode to the wild west. This whiskey is distilled in Texas, Virginia, and Indiana, before being blended in New Mexico. This brand is named after Mary Katherine Horony Cummings—aka, Big Nose Kate. She was the often-feared wife of gunslinger Doc Holliday. This spirit blends rye and malt and comes with notes of earth, coffee and leather.
Joyce and Raissa de Haas founded Double Dutch in 2015, to make top-shelf cocktail mixers. In fact, the company was founded after the sisters won the most promising startup prize from the University College London. As it turned out, the contest translated perfectly to real-life industry.
They started with two varieties: Cucumber & Watermelon, and Pomegranate & Basil. Since then, the company has extended its offering to include several other options, including Cranberry & Ginger, Skinny Tonic Water, Soda Water and Ginger Beer. Heineken recently purchased a minority stake in the company, so it will be exciting to see how the brand evolves over the coming years.
A veteran in the winemaking game, Cathy Corison has been producing subtle, well-balanced wines since launching her own label in 1987. The winery was founded to produce a world-class Cabernet Sauvignon by sourcing grapes from vineyards between Rutherford and St. Helena.
Corison has also worked at well-known producers like Staglin Family Vineyard, York Creek Vineyards and Long Meadow Ranch. She champions a ‘hands off’ approach, allowing her wines to take their natural, terroir-driven shape. Corison also focuses on sustainability—one of the winery’s founding principles is minimizing negative impacts on the environment.
Alix Peabody is something of an entrepreneurial mastermind. During her twenties, she was known to throw ticketed parties in order to pay off some medical bills. Fast forward a few years, and she founded Bev. Clearly, she’s doing something right at Bev—the brand’s sales grew 13,000% in 2020. Yes—you read that right.
Canned wine is one of the hottest categories in the beverage market today. With the slogan “made by chicks,” Bev creates light, refreshing California wines in ultra-convenient cans. What’s not to love?
Originally a beekeeper, Claire M. Marin founded Catskill Provisions Distillery in 2019. The distillery focuses on purity, making spirits without the use of sugar or corn syrup. They source their grains from farmers who eschew the use of pesticides. The result of this dedication to quality is clean, well-balanced spirits that are light and drinkable on the palate.
Fawn Weaver is a self-described ‘serial entrepreneur’ with over 25 years of experience in the business world. Today, she leads Uncle Nearest. Uncle Nearest isn’t just achieving success within the realm of women-owned brands. Rather, it has become the fastest-growing independent, premium American whiskey brand in the US. The company has produced numerous award-winning whiskeys over the years, through a careful attention to craft, blending and sourcing of ingredients.
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