Meet Dread River Distilling Co.’s female distiller who is breaking industry barriers

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 6:01 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - March is Women’s History Month.

Here in Birmingham, a woman is making her mark on the Magic City’s spirits scene.

You could call a distillery a man’s world.

“I think their is only 19 percent of the distilling industry made up of women at the moment, definitely a male-dominated industry,” on-site distiller at Dread River Distilling Co., Skyler Cuellar-Nolan said.

But that didn’t stop Skyler from following her passion to produce spirits.

She’s the first female distiller at Dread River Distilling Co. in downtown Birmingham.

“I have a lot of phone calls with people, farmers suppliers and people. It’s always, Good afternoon or good morning Mr. Skyler.’ I’m always like ‘hello,’ then they quickly apologize, and I’m like it happens all the time,” she added.

Her job is getting the wide range of spirits from rum to whiskey ready for bottling.

“That can either be mashing or making the spirit that day, that’s where we put it into a tank a let it cook,” Skyler said.

A process she finds the most interesting is barreling.

“You know barreling you can have the same spirit in five different barrels and it’s gonna interact with the wood in the barrel a different way in each barrel,” Skyler said.

In addition to the creative side of distilling, Skyler deals with heavy machinery.

“I’m pretty short, a lot shorter than the average male. A lot of things are made when they are put it for an average males height, so just having to work around things like that,” she added.

But the Auburn grad encourages more women to explore a career crafting spirits.

“I think it’s pretty interesting because women have a better pallet than men do, a more diverse pallet than men do,” Skyler said. “So I think it’s interesting we don’t have more females in this field, for someone who enjoys being creative and enjoys science, it’s a good field to look into for sure.”


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