Montanya Distillers brings Caribbean rum in to the Rockies

Two years ago, Silverton residents Karen and Brice Hoskin were beaching it in Belize. The question arose, as it does this time of year, how do we make this type of trip a tax deduction?

Mountain Brew: Elevation makes for top-shelf rum.

The answer came a few days later in Guatemala, when the rum-loving couple learned the local tradition of taking the drink up into the mountains to age. The altitude creates fluctuations in temperature, which act as a catalyst to the aging process, making better rum. The experience got them wondering just how well rum might age in Colorado’s high peaks.

When they returned home, the Hoskins went full-throttle into making that whim a reality. Initial research showed they were onto something. Premium rums had increased sales by 40 percent in 2008, and two of the top three spirits sold in the U.S. were rum. In order to tap into this market, the Hoskins planned to improve upon an already successful Guatemalan rum process in Silverton, where there are bigger mountains, fresher water and virtually no humidity or evaporation issues.

Hair of the Dog: Hangin’ at the distillery bar.

The resulting Montanya Distellers’ two rums, Oro (dark), and Platino (light), both received prestigious awards their first year in existence at international competitions. This year, the Hoskins have increased distribution of the winning pair to New England and Arizona, with plans to make it to California, Texas and New Mexico by the end of the year, and the entire U.S. by the end of 2011.

The Hoskins, happily living their dream, told us that they won’t stop until 75 percent of the cocktails you see on a menu are made from rum instead of vodka. Toward that goal, their Silverton tasting room features an eclectic mix of rum cocktails, using made-from-scratch recipes and market fresh fruits, herbs and spices. Find recipes and more at montanyadistillers.com. •