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On The Rocks(ies): Montanya Distillers Makes Rum In Colorado

Photo Courtesy Montanya Distillers

When one thinks of rum, it’s probably unlikely that the high-reaching, jaw-dropping mountainscape of the Rocky Mountain Range pops into the front of their mind. Some may think of sandy beaches and tiki huts, tiny umbrellas lazing in tropical iced drinks, with sedate, rolling waves rolling onto sandy beaches.

Some might think of an eye-linered Johnny Depp lamenting the scarcity of his favorite liquor treat hilariously: “Where has all the rum gone?” Others may picture another fictional pirate, leg astride a keg barrel, emblazoned on a certain famous spiced rum advertised during football games. 

One distillery, founded in 2008 and operating in Crested Butte, Colorado, is looking to change that perception completely.

Video Courtesy Montanya Distillers

Montanya Distillers — “Montanya” means “high mountain” in Spanish — and its co-founder and head of operations, Megan Campbell, believe that rum is for everyone and everywhere.

This women-led, Colorado-based rum distiller is changing the game for spirits in the Rocky Mountain region. 

The Business Download spoke with Campbell to learn more about Montanya Distillers’ work in its field and the sustainable ways it makes its delicious “tropical” Rocky Mountain treat.

Beginning the conversation, Campbell gives a little insight into her background.

“I am from Louisiana and hold a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from LSU,” she said. “So working production — optimizing efficiency — has kind of always been on my radar. I got my start at Oxbow Rum Distillery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We were [a] single estate, so we were owned by our sugar mill and made all Louisiana sugar cane into rum. I worked there for about two years.”

“And then I got my start working for Montanya Distillers in Crested Butte, Colorado, in 2020,” Campbell continued. “So I’ve been there for the past three and a half years, which has been really fun. My role was a head distiller, so I ran all production aspects and then recently took an ownership role in December.”

Photo Courtesy Montanya Distillers

Campbell explains the origins of Montanya Distillers and the process they follow to create their product. “The previous owner, Karen Hoskin, wanted to make rum because she was a celiac,” she said. “So the gluten in whiskey and bourbons kind of upset her stomach.” 

“Interesting kind of how rum came to be; we kind of follow the high mountain rum traditions of like in the islands, like Guatemala, there are many high mountain rum traditions where they would bring the barrels up to the mountain to age because you get better at an elevation so and when you’re in higher elevation, you get more daily temperature fluctuations,” Campbell said.

“And that’s going to cause the liquid to move in and out of the barrel. And you get more complex aging that way, and then you would at sea level.”

Aside from providing a product for people not as well-suited to other spirits and simply seeking to distill the best rum in its region, Montanya Distillers always keeps an eye on how its work impacts the Earth and community around the business. The company incorporates sustainable practices into many aspects of its daily work.

“So, that was an initiative by the previous owner, Karen Hoskin. It’s offsetting. So we basically pay what we pay in electricity to support wind power projects,” Campbell explained. “Under new ownership, we kind of want to go further deeper into that and [are] working on acquiring grants from the state to put solar panels actually on our building. So, we kind of bring it all in-house rather than offsetting.”

Photo Courtesy Montanya Distillers 

Campbell said the business isn’t just stopping at energy.

“One of the cool things we do is we are a plastic-neutral company because plastic accounts for a lot of the pollution in this world,” she said. “So basically, we partnered with a local company called CB Sustainable, and they recycle [our plastic].”

“A lot of times you get a lot of plastic film with packaging, and when you get materials shipped to you and shipping out. That plastic film, a lot of times, it’s not picked up by local waste management companies,” Campbell continued. “So we have a local company that comes and picks it up monthly from ours. And they bring it to a recycle center that actually knows how to process that kind of film and get it in the right place.”

Montanya Distillers is leading its region in not only high-mountain rum distilling but also in sustainable business and manufacturing practices. It strives to be a fine destination for a tasty spirit and a company that can be counted on to be a good steward of its community and the big, beautiful world around it. Cheers to that!


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