In early days such as these, it’s the fearless entrepreneurs and tireless students of the craft whose passion and dedication ultimately turn the rest of us onto what we didn’t even know we were missing.
Find Your Belizean Hot Sauce
You probably know Montanya Distillers best for the pure, richly flavored rums it’s produced during its decade-plus in existence—nutty, honeyed Oro and velvety, three-year-aged Exclusiva, finished in French oak Cabernet Sauvignon and Port barrels from a Colorado vineyard. Maybe you’ve heard that its Crested Butte, Colorado headquarters are 100 percent wind-powered, that half of its 27 employees are women, or that co-founder Karen Hoskin helped start the Women’s Distillery Guild, a national organization supporting gender diversity in craft distilling.
What you might not know is that Hoskin pursued not one but two fulfilling careers before she and husband Brice founded Montanya in 2008. Rum got into her soul long before then, however, when she was a college student living with a Hindu family in Varanasi, India. One evening, a bartender poured her a visceral nip of Old Monk.
“I had my mind blown—it was so delicious, such a powerful sensory experience,” she remembers, pausing. “Honestly, it was sweeter than I’d like now, but it had all those notes people associate with aged rum: butterscotch, vanilla, sucrose.”
What also distinguished Old Monk was its purity, which for then-undiagnosed celiac Hoskin meant the difference between feeling great and abysmal after even one drink.