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Making a mark on the industry – Arvada whiskey distillery owned, run by women

Talnua Distillery in Arvada is diversifying the whiskey industry – one barrel at a time.

ARVADA, Colo. — Talnua Distillery in Arvada is a company making its own mark on history by being one of the few women-owned and women-run distilleries in Colorado. 

The company was co-founded by Meagan Miller and Maya Oren is the general manager. The distillery makes a unique style of spirits called Single Pot Still whiskey and is the first distillery outside of Ireland fully dedicated to making it.

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“We’re trying to pioneer pot still whiskey in the U.S,” Oren said. “It almost disappeared from the world, so we’re here bringing it back, preaching the good word about it and making really great spirits.”

Credit: Byron Reed

The distillery said the name Talnua is born of the Irish-Gaelic words ‘talamh,’ meaning ‘land,’ and ‘nua,’ meaning ‘new.’ 

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Pot still whiskey is made by combining malted and un-malted barley, distilling it in copper pot stills and maturing it in oak casks. Oren said distilling pot still whiskey started in the 1600s when Britain occupied Ireland. 

The British leveed a series of taxes on malted barley, so the Irish evaded those taxes by including that raw barley in their whiskeys.

Credit: Byron Reed

“You have to use at least 30% raw barley or un-malted barley and then at least 30% malted barley,” Oren said. “Most whiskeys are really defined by the grains that you put in them.”

The distillery opened its doors to the public in 2019 and has been open ever since. It was a challenge other women-owned businesses struggled with during the pandemic. 

According to a survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, women-owned businesses were among the hardest hit by the pandemic closing at higher rates than businesses owned by men. But Oren said through some creative thinking their company was able to stay afloat.

Credit: Byron Reed
"We’re definitely making history here and its really exciting," said Talnua Distillery general manager Maya Oren.

“It was a lot of pivoting and a lot of spur-of-the-moment decisions,” Oren said. “Being a production distillery, we also had the opportunity to both sell through here as well as wholesale.”

Oren said there are about 100 or so distilleries in general in Colorado and only a small percentage of them are women-owned and women-run. She said she’s starting to see more women interested in the male-dominated industry like Talnua co-owner Meagan Miller and creative director Amy Kingman.

Credit: Talnua Distillery
Talnua Distillery co-owner Megan Miller (left), creative director Amy Kingman (middle) and general manager Maya Oren (right).

“Meagan runs a large chunk of the behind-the-scenes stuff and then a shout out to our creative director Amy, as well,” Oren said. “I’m really fortunate to look up to them and they also kind of allow me to run this place, run our front of house and kind of build this business with them so it’s really a beautiful thing.”

Credit: Byron Reed

Recently, the distillery grabbed some international recognition by winning a World Whiskies Award for their 2021 Old Saints Keep whiskey. Oren hopes it will bring more attention to women in the industry with a taste for success.

Credit: Byron Reed

“I’m starting to see more women be interested in this industry and it's exciting, we’re seeing more women patrons here too,” she said. “We’re definitely drawing attention to the fact that we’re women-run here, and women-owned (and) definitely collecting a following of women and whiskey lovers in general.”

For more information about Talnua Distillery

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