Women of WW: Spirits Edition

Oct 10, 2018

Wine Warehouse presents: women in spirits founders and master distillers!

Name: Kiki Braverman

Company: PÜR Spirits

Role: Founder, Master Distiller

What was your “aha moment” when it comes to liqueur?

I grew up in Germany where fruit and herbal liqueurs are part of everyday culture. There is a vibrant distilling scene with a multitude of very old small and medium sized distilleries that distill fruit with Pear Williams being the most popular distillate. I remember my father getting the Pear Williams bottle out to conclude an elaborate meal. My mom had a collection of ornate tulip snifters which were used to serve the liqueurs neat. Every sip was savored. On special occasions, she served liqueur topped with prosecco as a spritz.

What is your go to drink?

Right now I am drinking PÜR’s apéritif style amaro called “Aperitivo Zamaro.” It’s made from a long list of herbs and botanicals whose digestive and health properties are extracted by the alcohol. I am very much into a natural lifestyle with lots of kombucha, yoga, bone broth; the Aperitivo fits right into my lifestyle and I enjoy it neat or with ice in the evening.

What’s next in the world of liqueur?

I see that customers want more natural ingredients and less artificial flavors. They want to enjoy a cocktail without wrecking their health with high fructose corn syrup, stabilizers, preservatives, artificial colors.

Name: Carin Luna-Ostaseski

Company: Sia Scotch

Role: Founder, Master Distiller

Carin Luna-Ostaseski is the first American woman in history to create a brand of Scotch Whisky. Coming off the heels of a breakup, with some no longer needed “couples counseling money,” Carin used that money to accumulate close to 300 bottles by the year’s end. Cured of breakup blues and ready for a new start, she immersed herself in the world of Scotch one bottle at a time. She became a student of Whisky and hosted tasting events for many years. It was during this time that Carin discovered people were ready for a new Whisky. She wanted people’s thoughts to go from “it burns my nostrils and tastes like gasoline” to “this is absolutely delicious.”

She also wanted to create a whisky that is affordable, accessible and delicious in cocktails.

Carin left her 17 year career as a graphic designer behind and launched SIA Scotch Whisky via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Carin has seen exponential growth since the fruition of SIA. She is excited to see where it goes, in her words, “We are just getting started!”

Name: Mhairi Voelgsen

Company: BroVo Spirits

Role: Founder, Master Distiller

What is your go to drink?

I have two products that I tend to drink more than the others. In the summer, I sit in the backyard in an Adirondack chair with my bare feet in the grass and drink Pink, our rose vermouth. It is beautifully balanced in four flavor quarters- floral, citrus, and baking spice, but the flavor that really comes through for me is the summer herbaceousness, summer savory, thyme, tarragon, basil and mint. It’s beautiful over crushed ice or topped with some tonic.

In the winter, I drink Amaro 4. It’s a cascade of hibiscus, eucalyptus, grapefruit, orange, lemon and cayenne. The Cayenne warms you up. I drink it with mezcal in a 50/50 mix over a large ice cube.

What’s next in the world of amaro, vermouth, liqueurs?

I see a bright future for American amaro, vermouth and liqueurs. The craft industry is only just starting to recognize the potential in these spirits. We hope that there are as many Amari in the US as there are in Italy, with every neighborhood and district claiming a flavor or ingredient. I think there is a focus on real ingredients, and transparency in the process.

Name: Allison Evanow

Company: Square One Organic Vodka

Role: Founder, Master Distiller

What was your “aha moment” when it comes to vodka?

To be honest, I didn’t so much love vodka as I loved anything “botanical”, with fresh, floral, herbaceous and citrusy notes. I saw an opportunity to make a line of botanical vodkas that borrowed from the concept of gin, with multiple botanicals and a more savory flavor profile that worked great in craft cocktails. I knew there were a lot of people like me, who wouldn’t drink flavored vodkas because the quality was not in the bottle, and I set out to change that!

What is your go to drink?

I find Square One Basil to be my “go to” when I want to work with just one of my spirits but be able to make a lot of very different cocktail profiles for my guests. It works best in citrus-based cocktails and can either be showcased in something simple and straightforward like a Strawberry Basil Lemonade, or a variation of a Last Word (with our Basil instead of gin and yellow chartreuse instead of green), or in a spicy cocktail with chiles and a touch of mezcal. Its herbaceous profile allows it to adapt to different ingredients in the cocktail and offer a different flavor profile every time.

What’s next in the world of vodkas?

We were truly a pioneer in our category, not just by being one of the first all organic spirits companies in the United States, but by introducing a “first” in many of the botanical vodkas we created. With the introduction of our Botanical, Basil and Bergamot, we leaned on multiple botanicals in each blend to deliver a more robust taste experience than a single botanical vodka can deliver, and I think we have started a wave. Regardless of what the TTB calls it, flavored vodka, botanical spirit, gin, aquavit, etc. I think there will continue to be an explosion of botanical spirits in the white spirits category.


Michter’s Master Distiller
“I’ve always believed you lead by example. That’s always been my philosophy as a supervisor and a manager. I don’t expect someone to do something I’ve never done. Whether it’s sweep the floor or anything else, it’s not beneath me to do that and I’m ok with that. You just have to pitch in and do whatever you have to do to be part of the team to make the best quality product.”

La Gritona Tequila Master Distiller
Melly is a clothing businesswoman turned tequila master distiller. “My clothing business was very comfortable. I went to the office, went home, it was easy. But once I was in the tequila industry, I loved it. The smell, the taste, it was marvelous.” She truly believes that women “can do everything they want to, we are no better or worse than men. It’s difficult, but we can definitely do what we want. The sky’s the limit.”

Joseph Magnus Master Distiller
“I had my first ‘aha moment’ when I was about 7 years old, I’m a bit sheepish to admit… I was drinking a glass of Coca Cola, which I sat down on a table while my father introduced me and my sister to his friends. When I came back to pick up my glass, I thought it smelled a lot like Jack Daniels or Bourbon and coke. I knew that aroma, since that was my father’s drink, as it was for many people in mid-1970’s East Tennessee.”

Greenalls, Bloom Gin, Opihr Master Distiller
“I think one of my favorite moments has to be when I was made the 7th Master Distiller back in 2006 of G&J Greenall’s (as it was formally known) and then given the opportunity to create from scratch BLOOM gin which bears my name and then to be able go on and create other gins under the Quintessential Brands Banner such as Berkeley Square, Opihr and Thomas Dakin which are all seeing success in the marketplace.”

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