Founder Karen Hoskin weighs in on some of the current debates within the world of premium rum, including the debate over sweetened versus unsweetened rum and what she loves best about the category of spirits. Part 2 of 2.
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Founder Karen Hoskin weighs in on some of the current debates within the world of premium rum, including the “best makers” of rum and the best ways to learn more about rum. Part 1 of 2.
Want to know more about how to make rum? Here’s an inside look at the distilling process at Montanya Distillers.
Shaking Up the Craft Spirits World, The Women's Distillery Guild Advocates for Gender Diversity and Advancement
Crested Butte, Colo., May 8, 2018 – When Karen Hoskin, owner of Montanya Distillersand a founding member of Ladies of American Distilling (LOAD), took over as interim leader of the organization in February, one of the first things she did was change the name to The Women’s Distillery Guild (WGD).
“I did a survey of the 700 people who were involved with the predecessor organization, and two out of three asked for a name change,” said Hoskin. “They also wanted a membership non-profit organization and a clear mission with state and city chapters. So with this input, those have been my first tasks. It all came together pretty quickly.”
The Altitude Equation Gives Montanya Rum A Distinct Flavor from Colorado Rockies
Colorado’s local rum hand-crafted at 8,900 feet in Crested Butte
CRESTED BUTTE, Colorado (December 12, 2014) — Located at 8,900 feet in the mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado, Montanya Distillers has been working for 6 years to master the art of handcrafting high altitude rum. The key is not only in the ingredients that go into Montanya’s Oro and Platino rums—Crested Butte mountain water, yeast, Louisiana raw sugar and a tiny touch of Durango-based Honeyville honey at bottling time—but also what happens when making the spirit at elevation.
The Mountain Rum Difference
“Many people are surprised that we make rum in the mountains because they think rum is an island tradition and a Caribbean phenomenon. Yet, there has been a rich tradition of mountain rum distilling and altitude rum for a very long time,” says Karen Hoskin, president and co-owner of Montanya Distillers. “Temperatures in mountainous climates fluctuate daily and allow the flavors in the barrel to meld differently than they do at sea level.”
Guatemalan mountainsFrom 1948 on, Guatemala has been a world leader in mountain rum, taking the rums made there into the mountains up to 7,500 feet to age. Also, rum distillers in Colombia have been crafting rum at the north end of the Andes mountain range, surrounded by volcanoes such as Nevado del Ruiz rising to 17,500 feet, Hoskin notes.
However, there are even more compelling reasons to make rum in the mountains of Colorado. “Our water, which we use in the fermenting and proofing process, is incredibly plentiful and outrageously pure. We pull it from an aquifer in Crested Butte that percolates through a glacial moraine 350 feet under our facility, adding the flavor of many minerals. It is a distiller’s dream water,” Hoskin says.
Montanya’s fermentations are chilled by the water coming naturally cold from the from the well at their facility, and their distillations boil at a lower temperature at high elevation, allowing for better control of temperature in the still and providing more flavor in the final distillate. Heat from the stills is used to heat Montanya’s buildings in the chilly seasons, and fluctuating temperatures (20-40 degrees in a single day) in Crested Butte allows the rum to move in and out of the pores of the barrel, resulting in much more exposure to the oak. “The wood is where the magic of aging happens.” Hoskin emphasizes. “Our rum ages in American oak casks that previously held whiskey made in Denver.”
Colorado’s Local Rum
Established in 2008, Montanya is the only distillery in Colorado focusing exclusively on rum. It has become the state’s local rum with a growing client base that includes the likes of five-star hotels The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and The Little Nell in Aspen and eateries and bars such as Ginger Café in Crested Butte, Bin 707 in Grand Junction, Cypress Café in Durango, Justice Snow’s in Aspen, and The Hornet, Paramount Café, and several Snooze locations in Denver. In addition, the new Cooper Lounge at Denver’s recently reopened Union Station has created The Paradise Express 12 with Montanya rum, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort ski area has named Montanya its official rum.
Restaurants like Jill’s Restaurant & Bistro at St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder and Modis in Breckenridge are tapping the distinct flavors of Montanya rum not only in cocktails, but chef specials and desserts as well. Teryn Guadagnoli of Modis Restaurant and Bar in Breckenridge sings Montanya’s praises. "Montanya rums have become a staple on our menu at Modis, from classic rum cocktails like the Papa Doble to modern interpretations on our specials list. We use the Oro rum in dessert sauces in our kitchen because it adds so much complexity to chocolate and caramel."
Montanya has greatly expanded its own culinary program at their Tasting Room in Crested Butte, adding pairings to their already popular cocktail menu. The new program focuses on appetizers and small plates, with many featuring Montanya rum and other ingredients sourced from Colorado companies and farmers. A sampling of dishes featured on this winter’s menu that feature Montanya rum includes Seared Scallops with Fresh Mango, Avocado and Montanya Oro Rum Glaze and a Vanilla Parfait with fresh berries drenched in Montanya Rum Crème. The menu changes seasonally to take advantage of the many products grown and made locally in the region.
Montanya also has started using its rum in a line of house-made bitters and rum truffles that can be purchased only in the Crested Butte Tasting Room, further expanding the ways customers can enjoy the locally made spirit.
The Montanya Story
In 2008, Karen and her husband Brice Hoskin established Montanya Distillers in Silverton, Colorado, where a Montanya Distillers Tasting Room continues to operate. As the distillery expanded in 2011, the Hoskins moved production to Crested Butte and opened a Tasting Room downtown. At its current location at 212 Elk Ave., Montanya offers an extensive artisan cocktail and small plates menu, outdoor seating on front and back patios in the warmer seasons, and live music on a regular basis. The Tasting Room is available for some private events, and Montanya also offers rum cocktail catering and guest bartending for off-site events.
The American Distilling Institute named Montanya Distillers, one of the few female-owned and operated distilleries in the United States, 2013 Craft Distiller of the Year. Montanya will release a three-year aged rum to the Colorado market in June 2015.
Now sold in 39 states and 5 countries overseas, Montanya recently announced the newest way to give its rums as gifts through the online spirits gift giving company www.1-877-Spirits. Oro and Platino rums are available by the bottle, and prices include gift delivery. The 877Spirits website also features a gift basket called “The Colorado Cocktail Kit,” which includes a bottle of Montanya Oro dark rum, a wood muddler, cocktail cherries, simple syrup and bitters traveler’s set presented in a classy wooden chest. Visit www.1-877-spirits.com/category/montanya-rum/MR95. Prices listed on the site include gift packaging and shipping or delivery nationwide.
At the Tasting Room in Crested Butte, customers may also create their own custom gift baskets using Montanya Rum and house-made bitters, truffles, cocktail ingredients, as well as bar tools from their well-stocked mercantile.