At the recent 2019 Tales of the Cocktail, I sat down for lunch with Karen Hoskin—the CEO of Montanya Distillers—along with a handful of rum luminaries and other spirits professionals.
It was a lovely lunch in New Orleans, hosted by Karen and prepared by the staff of Sylvain, to celebrate our love for rum as well as to raise a glass to Montanya Distillers’ decade-long rum journey.
Breaking Rules While Making Rum
Montanya Distillers makes award-winning American craft rum high up in the Rocky Mountains. Launched in 2008 with their own savings as startup capital, co-founders Karen and Brice Hoskin never set out to build a conventional distillery. This is evident in many of the things they’ve done, as well as the decisions they’ve made over the years.
For one, the climate where they located their distillery—two miles above sea level—is nothing like the weather in other popular rum producing regions, such as the Caribbean, which influences how the rum ages in barrels. Second, they insist on sourcing their entire sugarcane supply locally from the United States from a family-owned farm. And third, their unwavering dedication to sustainability earned them the distinction of being the first distillery in Colorado to be named a Certified B Corporation. I could go on, but you get the idea.
A Deserved Announcement
During our meal at Tales of the Cocktail, Karen alluded to an announcement that would be coming in a few days, which would impact the next chapter for Montanya Distillers. That big announcement came earlier today, when Constellation Brands confirmed an investment in Montanya Distillers, acquiring a minority stake in the Colorado rum producer.
Montanya Valentia is a tribute to women breaking the glass ceiling in rum, craft spirits, and the alcohol beverage industry.
The funding came through the Focus on Female Founders program of Constellation Brands Ventures, the venture arm of Constellation Brands, whose purpose is to make meaningful investments in innovative beverage companies founded or led by women.
One key tenet to accepting funding from an investment partner is for Montanya Distillers to maintain control, and to continue operating the business under the same vision, values and approach as they always have—and that is exactly what CEO Karen Hoskin retains with this deal. Additionally, she’s gained a partner that supports her vision of craft American rum.
Building for Growth
Karen plans to allocate the new funding towards “[increasing] production, distribution, and to build the company foundation for growth.” She already has a number of key hires in motion—across administrative, sales, marketing and PR—and fully intends to continue speaking proudly about their sustainability ethos.
Montanya’s product roadmap will include a few updates to their current rum lineup, such as a new primary bottle shape to be introduced this fall. They will also continue releasing special limited expressions, such as their latest release Montanya Valentia, which is “a tribute to women breaking the glass ceiling in rum, craft spirits, and the alcohol beverage industry.” The additional funding also gives Montanya more breathing room to mature their rum longer, with expectations “to release some longer aged spirits as time goes on.”
We’ve been fans of Karen and Montanya Distillers ever since we covered them in one of our earlier profile pieces. Now, as they write the next chapter of their amazing story, we’ll be cheering them on from the sidelines, sipping on rum.
Photos: Montanya Rum