Female-owned Montanya Rum distillers has been producing American rum sustainably in the mountains of Colorado while also challenging “a lack of diversity” in the alcohol industry.
Staff at the Crested Butte-based business, which was founded by Karen Hoskin in 2008, is 58.5% female, and management is 75% female.
According to the Montanya Rum website: “We have or have had women in every role in the business: President and CEO, Distilling, Marketing and Communications, Lead Chef, Front of House and Back of House Management, Bartending, Serving, Line Cook—you name it, a woman has done it.”
Montanya Rum founder and president Karen Hoskin’s love of rum began aged 21 on a beach in Goa, India when a bartender introduced her to Old Monk, an aged Indian dark rum. It took almost two more decades for Karen’s love of rum to turn into Montanya Distillers.
When Karen Hoskin set up Montanya Rum in 2008, she knew the industry would be male dominated. She had to fight to be taken seriously for her first decade in business, during which time she had been mistaken for an assistant and ignored in certain board rooms. She admits that her ability to drive a fork lift still surprises many people.
Never one to back down, Karen Hoskin set out to change that reality and create opportunity for women in distilling and the world of rum. Now her company has grown to become a world-renowned craft rum distillers, shipping rum to 44 states in the US and 7 countries worldwide.
Karen Hoskin told Spirit Hub: “From the beginning, I have had so many people—often men—tell me that I couldn’t build a business the way I wanted. I couldn’t take care of the environment. I couldn’t take care of my staff and grow too. At every turn, I didn’t back down and the result is a company and product of which I am immensely proud”.
Montanya Rum sistillers produces four award-winning varieties of craft rum – Platino Light rum, Oro Dark rum, The Exclusiva aged-rum, and Valentia – using just four natural American ingredients. Each bottle is made with pure Louisiana sugarcane and crisp snowmelt water from the Rockies. The batches are finished with a small dash of Colorado honey to highlight the natural flavour of the sugarcane and the barrels used to age the rums.
Karen Hoskin added: “Everything in our rum is hand-crafted and originates from the U.S., including the non-GMO sugar cane, which we get from Louisiana farmers, and even the bottles and non-plastic synthetic corks. Rum is so versatile and we look forward to learning how people are using our rum to break it out of the stereotypical boxes rum often finds itself in.”
In addition to supporting and training women in her own distillery, the Montanya Rum-founder has also made it a point to support women throughout the industry, including leading the Women in Distilling group as part of the Women of the Vine & Spirits organisation.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living