Crested Butte Rum Distiller Seeing Exponential Growth
Crested Butte is already known as one of Colorado’s premier ski destinations, and after Montanya Distillers was named 2013 Craft Distiller of the Year by the American Distilling Institute last week, it has became known as home to one of the country’s best rums.
During the 10th anniversary conference of the American Distilling Institute, held in Denver the first week of April, Montanya was named this year’s Craft Distiller of the Year and was awarded the “Bubble Cap Award,” which is presented to one American distilling company that most exemplifies the values of the institute and its distiller training programs, including excellence in process and products, transparency regarding its distilling methods, overall authenticity of approach, and promising company growth.
Montanya Distillers received the award amidst record-breaking conference attendance, with over 900 people convening from around the country, representing more than 200 American distilleries and start-ups.
“We were completely and utterly blown away,” Montanya Distillers President, founder and co-owner Karen Hoskin said in an interview on Tuesday. “They only give one award a year. There are 240 distilleries that are members of this institute, and we think there are so many distilleries that are so cool. For us to be recognized among all of them, it’s maybe the biggest honor that we have ever had at this company.”
Montanya’s Oro rum also received accolades by garnering a silver medal at the conference – the highest honor in its category.
Originally, Hoskin said, she and her husband aimed to open a brewpub in Flagstaff, Ariz. about 20 years ago, but ultimately decided it wasn’t the time. Fast forward about 15 years, and the two believed there would be a wave of popularity for craft distilling, similar to the wave craft beer brewing was riding, so they decided to open Montanya Distillers in Silverton.
“I have been a big fan of rum for almost 25 years. I have always been known among my friends for making rum cocktails and infusions,” Hoskin said. “We decided to get on the wave and started five years ago this month. So far, it’s been way more successful than we ever dreamed.”
Believing exponential growth was on the horizon, Montanya eventually moved to Crested Butte approximately two years ago, which allowed the couple to add a second still to their operation and an extra 3,000 feet space for production. Over the past 18 months, Montanya has expanded its distribution into six new markets, including Texas, Nevada, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Kansas. This brings the availability of its Oro and Platino rums to 38 states, including California, Arizona, and Massachusetts. Montanya has also gone global, and is now distributing in Europe and other foreign markets.
“We have grown exponentially,” she said. “The company grew 74 percent last year overall. On the wholesale side, just in the state of Colorado in our on-premise accounts, we grew 100 percent last year.”
So what makes Montanya Distiller’s rum so special? It’s simple, Hoskin said.
“I think it’s the fact that it tastes really good,” she said. “That helps a lot. You could do a lot of marketing on a rum that is marginal and you wouldn’t get very far.”
While the taste of its rum maybe carrying itself to markets around the country and the world, in Crested Butte, the company has become well known for its tasting room, which is more like a bustling bar. It is where bartenders create and mix fresh cocktails using their now-famous rums.
“We continue to hear from bartenders around the U.S. that customers don’t really drink rum,” Hoskin said. “‘Ha’, we say. When a bar offers low-quality rum and overly-sweet cocktails with artificial colors, it should be no surprise that customers shy away. We serve over 50,000 rum cocktails a year, with ginger, fresh lime, grapefruit, lavender, cucumber, habanero, mango, black cherry, fresh pineapple, chai, and other diverse flavors. We promise our friends behind the bar, customers really do love their rum.”
Montanya Distillers is open to the public daily year round for distillery tours, tastings, cocktails, and appetizers from 11 a.m. to last call at 9 p.m. For more information, visit montanyarum.com.