When Montanya Distillers, a 100 percent wind-powdered, rum-only distillery, first opened in the tiny mountain town of Silverton in 2008, it was one of only five craft distilleries in Colorado, and rum was one of the most under-appreciated spirits in the craft beverage market. Fast forward nearly a decade and a move to Crested Butte later, and Montanya rum is one of Western Colorado’s most popular craft spirits—it’s even starting to gain traction overseas. The fast-growing distillery picked up the USA Rum of the Year award at the Berlin International Spirits Competition in May for its Montanya Oro light rum. Now, with the help of an overseas distribution partner, it’s currently sending its mountain-inspired rum to seven countries in Europe, in addition to 42 states in the U.S.

“I have been a rum fan for 28 years,” co-owner Karen Hoskin says (she operates the distillery with her husband Brice). She was first introduced to the idea of mountain-made rum—and the benefits of aging rum at higher elevations—while traveling in Guatemala. After tasting the clean, crisp flavor of a rum that was made with mountain spring water and aged above 7,000 feet, Karen decided to bring the concept back home with her to Colorado.

As it turns out, Europeans are particularly drawn to Montanya’s rum, which is “drier and more bitter” than the better-known, sweeter Caribbean rums. That, plus the big win at the Berlin International Spirits Competition, has sparked a huge increase in sales to Europe. “We’re on pace to sell more rum in Europe than in the U.S. in 2018,” Hoskin says. As Montanya expands overseas, it hasn’t lost sight of its commitment to sustainability. Its bottles are made in Europe, and to eliminate a step in the shipping process, Montanya is now bottling its European product in Spain.

Back home, the beloved mountain-town distillery recently revamped and relaunched its Rum Bar. The tasting room features 38 different craft cocktails including an Old Fashioned made with Montanya’s Oro rum (which is barrel aged in whiskey barrels with a touch of honey); the refreshing Salty Dog, which is made with the distillery’s Platino light rum (which is filtered through a coconut husk charcoal filter for a smooth texture and complex flavor); and the Ti’ Exclusiva—a simple daiquiri made with fresh lime, simple syrup, and Montaya’s top shelf Exclusiva rum (which is aged in an American White Oak barrel for two years, then transferred to a French Oak barrel for an additional six months).

Can’t make it to Crested Butte? Pick up a bottle at retail shops along the Front Range such as Argonaut Wine & Liquor in Denver or Liquor Mart in Boulder.

212 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, 970-799-3206