There are only four ingredients in her award-winning rums—water, sugarcane, yeast and a touch of Rocky Mountain honey. The rum is aged in Colorado whiskey barrels from Laws Whiskey House of Denver. There are only three products: Platino (platinum), a white rum that is aged one year and then filtered by coconut husk carbon filtration to remove the color; Oro (gold), which is also aged for one year in fresh wet whiskey barrels; and Montanya’s premium rum, Exclusiva, is aged for a total of three years—two and half years in whiskey barrels and then the last six months in French oak barrels that previously held cabernet sauvignon and port from Sutcliffe Vineyards in Southwestern Colorado. Hoskin adds that she does not use the solera method at Montanya, a process where the spirit in the barrels is replaced with newer batches as it evaporates. “I think one of the challenges in the rum category is that is it not as regulated as the whiskey industry,” tells Hoskin. “Historically if you bought a bottle of rum, let’s say for example Ron Zapaca 23, it indicates that there is 23-year-old rum in that bottle and there is, but for every bit of rum that evaporates from the barrel, they add new, younger rum to it. Most people see that number, and if you see that on a Scotch, that would mean something. That’s not really true in the rum industry.” Hoskin ensures that her most vital ingredients, water and sugarcane, are the best she can obtain. The water comes from a mountain aquifer 350 feet below their aging and bottling warehouse just outside of town. “Water is essential to any spirit because it’s 60 percent of what’s in the bottle,” she points out. “To be able to know that the water coming out of there has already done its natural filtration through the ground makes it so much better than using surface water. With surface water, we would have issues with mineralization and have to go through layers of filtration.”
The sugarcane turned out to be more difficult to find than the water. She turned down organic sugarcane because of the difficulties of shipping it from South America. “I decided to go with Hawaiian sugarcane. However, we had to buy it from the commodity market. I wanted to certify our sugarcane was American-grown, but [the company] wouldn’t do that, because once the sugar enters the commodity market, they could no longer commit to where the cane was coming from. That was a sad heads up for me.” Then fate intervened. “About four years ago a couple walked into Montanya. One of our staff members knew I was stressing out about the process of finding a new sugarcane supplier, so she mentioned it to the couple. They said, ‘We’re sugar growers in Louisiana.’ They took my business card back to the Lula Sugar Mill Co-op, a group of families that are growing sugarcane in a 50-square-mile region of Louisiana. They gave my card to the manager and he reached out to me. Now we’re all best friends. They come out here with their families and ski. We went out there during harvest. So we were able to more than certify that it was American-grown.” The idea of knowing where her ingredients come from and having a personal connection to the product permeates every aspect of the company. “I often use the words ‘Human Scale,’” tells Hoskin. “Every step of our process is happening with a human being attached. Nothing is left up to a column or a computer to decide. We’re measuring our own alcohols by looking at a thermometer. We’re measuring the ABV by looking at a hydrometer. We’re making those types of cuts—decisions—ourselves.”
Montanya Distillers is located in Crested Butte, CO. For more information visit www.montanyarum.com or call (970) 799-3206.
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