About Montanya Distillers

Montanya Rums are the culmination of a 30-year love affair with rum and a passion for introducing it to others—all while building a business that is a force for good in the world.

 

An Instant Love Affair

At the age of 21, Montanya founder Karen Hoskin had her first sip of rum on a beach in Goa, India. She had just finished living with a Hindu family and was looking forward to her first drink of alcohol in nearly six months. An undiagnosed Celiac, Karen knew that beer didn’t agree with her and she generally couldn’t drink many other alcohols without health effects; what she did enjoy had to be high quality and worth drinking. (Oh, if only we all knew that so young!)

 
Montanya Distillers founder and owner Karen Hoskin (center) in India.

Montanya Distillers founder and owner Karen Hoskin (center) in India.

Karen in Goa, India, the same day she first tried rum (hence the giant smile!).

Karen in Goa, India, the same day she first tried rum (hence the giant smile!).

 

A bartender in Goa introduced her to Old Monk, an aged Indian dark rum. It was the beginning of a rum love affair that has now spanned 30 years, along with an appreciation for a good cocktail. (Karen’s first bartending gig in 1986 had introduced her to mixed drinks.) It didn’t take long for Karen to be known as the party guest who showed up with aged rum and a great new cocktail recipe—a pretty good reputation to have, if you ask us!



A New Vision for the Future

It took almost two more decades for Karen’s love of rum to turn into Montanya Distillers. She focused first on a career in graphic design and brand building through her own company, Beckoning Design. She and her husband, Brice, also raised two boys between Flagstaff, Arizona and Silverton, Colorado. In Silverton, Karen volunteered to build a preschool and Brice founded a handmade wooden sled company, Mountain Boy Sledworks.


In 2007, however, Karen and her family vacationed in Belize. Sitting on the beach she realized—and told Brice—that after more than a decade of helping build other people’s dream companies, she wanted to make a career change . She had enjoyed running her own design firm but was tired of doing all that work just to hand it off to someone else. She wanted to create her own brand and had a feeling that the craft brewing trend would expand to spirits. Why not make rum, her favorite spirit, and focus the next phase of her career on the spirit she loved?


Karen and Brice returned home to Silverton and—never the type to be daunted by unknowns—learned to distill, outfitted a distillery, obtained permits and opened Montanya Distillers in 2008. (Rumor has it they distilled their first batch of rum in a lobster pot, sort of fitting for Karen’s Maine roots.)

An early barrel of Montanya Oro filled in October of 2010.

An early barrel of Montanya Oro filled in October of 2010.

 

Part of a Movement

Karen’s prediction was right—she and Brice caught the beginning of (and became a part of) a movement toward craft spirits and premium, aged rums. From the start, the brand stayed committed to distilling in a very transparent way, without sugar added. Almost unheard of at the time, it set the brand apart and helped move the entire industry forward.

Today, Montanya Rums have won almost every major award in the spirits world, including gold and double gold medals, Best in Class designations, USA Rum of the Year and Craft Distillery of the Year. Rum itself has become a premium spirit—something to be respected in the world of high-quality spirits and artisan cocktails.

The original Montanya Distillers Tasting Room in Silverton, Colorado, circa 2008-2011.

The original Montanya Distillers Tasting Room in Silverton, Colorado, circa 2008-2011.

 

From Silverton to Crested Butte

The original Distillery (2008-2011) was on Blair Street in Silverton in a 100 year-old, 800 sq. foot stone building that was once a turn-of-the-century brothel. The complete operation took place on three levels: fermentations in the basement, distilling and tastings on the main level, and aging and bottling on the top floor.

The Hoskins climbed a lot of stairs back in those days, and you can imagine the heavy lifting and pumping of distilled spirits between floors! Karen, Brice and the crew also used an old box truck as a warehouse, to store the rum for freight shipments.

It was a grand adventure, but in 2011, Karen and Brice decided to move the company to Crested Butte. They felt the local business community would be more receptive toward their vision—even then Karen knew she wanted to build an international rum brand.

 
Aging and bottling on the third floor of the original Montanya Distillery in Silverton, Colorado. circa 2010.

Aging and bottling on the third floor of the original Montanya Distillery in Silverton, Colorado. circa 2010.

Brice and Karen in the current Crested Butte Tasting Room and Distillery.

Brice and Karen in the current Crested Butte Tasting Room and Distillery.

 
 

They were right. The Crested Butte community welcomed Montanya Distillers with open arms, and is still home to the business. Today they have three facilities totaling 5,800 square feet: the Distillery and Tasting Room on Elk Avenue in downtown Crested Butte, a bottling facility and barrel house two miles outside of town, and an office also on Elk Avenue. It’s been the perfect layout for growth and making the Montanya Distillers vision a reality.

 

A Different Way of Doing Business

For Karen, building a company was never just about rum—as much as she loves it, she also loves the challenge of creating something new and wanted to build a business that could have an impact. She saw (and continues to see) Montanya Distillers as a way to be a force for good in her community, in the beverage and alcohol industry, and in the lives of her employees.

Her philosophy of stewardship guides every decision in the business: Are we taking care of the people involved? Are we taking care of the environment and the greater community around the company? Are we leaving a mess for someone else to clean up later? Do we feel pride in what we are creating and how it is created?

 
 

The Montanya Distillers Vision:

Be the most highly-respected and well-loved American rum available.  

Stay true to our craft distilling values as we grow.

Changing how Americans view rum cocktails by introducing new artisan cocktails in our tasting rooms every week all year round.


 
 

Looking Toward the Future

Today, Montanya Distillers ships rum to 44 states and 7 countries, and the company is poised for continued growth. In 2019, the company became the first distillery to receive investment from the Focus on Female Founders Venture Fund at Constellation Brands. These funds will go straight into the business to help us expand distribution and continue to be a company that acts as a force for good.

 
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