Susan Price , WOMEN@FORBES

If just the mention of rum calls to mind Caribbean beaches, Karen Hoskin has some good reasons why you might think of the Colorado Rockies instead. That surprising location, says the founder of Montanya Distillers, is pretty ideal for making rum. “People make assumptions about where rum comes from and why, but as soon as we explain how it is made and why it makes sense, they’re interested,” she says.

Montanya is in Crested Butte, Co., where the high altitude positively affects almost every aspect of fermenting, distilling and aging rum. Rum is about 85% water, and Montanya’s comes from an aquifer below the town fed by clean snowmelt and spring water. Montanya further ups the quality of its rums by using only non-GMO sugar cane sourced from family farmers in Louisiana. Many distillers in the islands and South America uses oak barrels from Kentucky’s whiskey makers, while Montanya gets its barrels right in Colorado. “We’re closer to the source, and a fresher barrel makes a tastier rum,” she says.

Montanya makes three types of rum: an aged white rum, a medium dark, and a longer-aged limited edition. They’re sold through distributors in 42 states and seven countries, online through Drizly, and at Montanya’s tasting room, where the staff creates innovative cocktails far from the oversweet concoctions of beach resorts. The 23-employee operation has managed 20% growth every year, says Hoskin.

To read the entire article, check out The Craft Distillery That's Changing What People Think About Rum.