Celebrating Female Distillers
March is National Women’s Month, so we-re featuring women who aren’t only calling the shots, they’re making them.
Story by Ruksana Hussain
The spirits industry is booming and the number of distilleries across the U.S. is growing. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States reported record spirits sales in 2017, with a four percent increase for a total of $26.2 billion. While the majority of American distilleries are male-owned, the number of women helming the stills is on the rise. Since March is National Women’s Month, we’re featuring seven women who are shaking up the status quo. Here, they share some of the highs and lows of their work.
Motivation: A bartender and rum fanatic from my early days, I worked my way through college and grad school tending bar and making craft cocktails. The prospect of owning a craft distillery offered me three channels: a bar to make the cocktails I loved, a distillery to make the rum I wanted to drink, and an entrepreneurial challenge at a moment when I sensed craft spirits would take off.
Challenges: I have a mantra: “I am not in a prisoner of war camp. I am not floating in a lifeboat in the Pacific.” That may give you a sense of how hard some days can still be. I travel all over the U.S. visiting bars and bartenders, hosting events. I am often fending off advances while trying to work or mistaken for the hired booth hand. It has taken ten years, many groundbreaking recognitions and relentlessness to break out of these limitations. Women-founded companies get two percent of the venture capital deals that benefit my male colleagues. In addition to establishing myself as knowledgeable about rum, I have to do it with less financial backing. And yet, I persist.
Best Bits: When someone says, “Wow, I didn’t know I loved rum until Montanya Rum.” To be winning over a generation of skeptics and contributing to the rebirth of American rum is a dream come true for me. I am also incredibly proud of growing a company that has a triple bottom line: planet, people and profit.
Coming Soon: Montanya Valentia rum to be released in 2019. Valentia means courage, bravery, grit, tenacity in Spanish. It will be a tribute to women breaking the glass ceiling in rum, craft spirits, and the alcohol beverage industry.
Visit: Tours and tastings are offered daily at 212 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, Colorado. Get more information here.
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