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. 


Read the full article on Women in Craft Distilling.