Why You Should Know Margaret Bayuk

She is responsible for bringing a unique Russian vodka –– only sold in Pennsylvania –– to the Pittsburgh area.

photo by cory morton


About: Bayuk’s company holds an exclusive license to import Ustianochka vodka, named for the Ustya region in rural northern Russia. The vodka is distilled and bottled there and, since 2012, shipped to Amruss’ warehouse in Beaver Falls; it is sold only in Pennsylvania.

  • Bayuk grew up in the present-day Slovakia and came to Pittsburgh at age 20; her grandfather was a steelworker for J&L. The Soviets invaded the former Czechoslovakia the following year, so Bayuk didn’t return.
  • She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Pittsburgh, worked as a researcher and Slovak-language instructor, got married, raised four children and sold real estate.
  • While scuba-diving at Cozumel, Bayuk and her husband befriended a couple vacationing from Russia. The man, a vodka distributor, got her so interested in his business that she decided to try it.
  • “I’m surprised more people in America don’t take advantage of the freedom that’s available here to do what they like,” she says. “I love this country for this.”
  • Ustianochka is made from winter wheat and rye: “I think it’s the original vodka taste — that’s what all the Russians say.”
  • The bottle’s unique Russian cap screws open or closed while staying attached, and it also is good for keeping out bugs in summertime, Bayuk says.  


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