Our Rum on the Road series typically features founder Karen Hoskin’s travels on behalf of Montanya Distillers. This time, we get to share a slightly bigger perspective! In June, we closed up the Tasting Room and the Distillery, packed the crew into a van, and headed to Fort Collins for our annual retreat.
Brice calculated that it was the company’s 11th annual retreat. The first took place in Ridgway, Colorado when just a handful of employees (including Karen and Brice) took over a brewery booth for an afternoon and dreamed about the future. This time, 15 of us spent 3 days celebrating the success of the last decade, planning for the future, and prepping for what promises to be a busy summer. And, of course, listening to staff and getting their perspectives and input on all the happenings!
The best part? Getting to spend so much time with so many people we love. We truly are a family—quirky, fun-loving, a little bit crazy, generous, supportive, unique. Just like Montanya Distillers!
Destination: Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins provided the perfect setting. It’s a college town with great restaurants, distilleries and breweries. The city is known for being home to New Belgium Brewing, which played a featured role in the retreat. Former Communications Director Bryan Simpson, who recently started his own business after 20+ years at New Belgium, spoke to our crew about social and environmental responsibility. We also toured the distillery.
Both were highlights of the trip, particularly given the inspiration that New Belgium has been for Montanya Distillers and specifically Karen. She once pulled the car over so she could listen more closely to an interview with New Belgium co-founder Kim Jordan. Like Montanya Distillers, New Belgium was co-founded by a married couple and has continually put the wellbeing of its employees, its community and the planet at the center of its business. Nice to spend time with kindred spirits!
Digs: The Elizabeth Hotel
The Elizabeth is a music hotel in Old Town Fort Collins. Everything was in walking distance of the hotel or a quick five-minute drive. And each room has a record player and a small selection of vinyls. There’s also a library just off the lobby with more records and instruments you can check out for free. (Also, the beds! Like one employee said, like sleeping on clouds.)
Out on the Town
Yes, this was a business trip. But we work hard together everyday, and we don’t always get to play together. This trip we were sure to fit in some fun:
The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm
We made this restaurant our first stop in Fort Collins, where our staff had their pick between a fried chicken dinner, a farmhouse burger and beef cheek ragu & pasta, all excellent. The truffle-parm brussels sprouts were also a hit, and the featured cocktail highlighted (of course) Montanya Distillers rum.
The Emporium Kitchen
This restaurant is part of The Elizabeth Hotel. They serve a great breakfast and really good coffee, especially the almond milk lattes (and when a certain communications manager spilled hers all over her lap, they replaced it no questions asked).
Fort Collins Donut Company
Bite-sized, gluten-free donuts added a pick-me-up to our final session of the retreat. We wish we could replicate this donut shop at home!
Birds of a Feather
We got an inside look Elevation 5003 Distillery (that’s pronounced fifity-oh-three), a female-founded distillery where founder Loren Matthews makes rye, gin, whiskey, and specialty liquors. The Montanya Distillers crew took a liking to the Falernum, a Caribbean style liqueur made with an infusion of all natural ingredients including almond, ginger, clove, allspice, and lime. (It makes a great cocktail when mixed with Montanya Distillers Oro.)
So fun to sample spirits and cocktails, and get an inside peak at the operation. As tends to happen, when most of us moved on to cocktails, our distiller Gilles Huegi lingered after the tour to ask even more in-depth questions. Here are a few more pics from the trip: