Women in Craft Distilling

Karen Hoskin

Owner and Founder of Montanya Rum

Why/How did you get into distilling?

I have been a rum fanatic for 30 years. When I was looking at a career change a decade ago, I knew that I wanted to be part of the craft distilling movement that was to come, and to have a chance to make my favorite spirit. 

What is it like being a woman in the craft distilling industry?

It is a lot better now than it was a decade ago when I was often the only woman in any room. It has been a great joy of mine to see women enter and succeed in this industry. But there were many days on which I wanted to throw in the towel because of sexual harassment, lack of safety in my workplace on the road visiting bars and bartenders, and dealing with a terribly gender biased investor and venture community.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in the craft distilling industry?

As recently as five years ago, I had to spend most of my time trying to convince the people around me that I understood distilling, the industry, and how to make craft spirits. Every conversation required first that I establish my credibility and second that I actually get anything done. This was true in every aspect of my work. It still happens regularly, but I have managed to crash through the glass ceiling and be recognized as a leader. I would say it may have taken five times longer than it took many of my colleagues who have less experience and less knowledgeability.

What is your distilling background?

I am in the process of completing levels II and III of the WSET Spirits certification. I will be finished with this three level certification in 2019. I have spent a great deal of time studying with mentors like Jake Norris and Dave Thibideau. But I am primarily frontier trained, and have focused on training and mentoring women to distill and launch distilling businesses at my distillery over the last decade. 

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Karen HoskinWinter 2019