The Berlin International Spirits Competition has named Montanya Distillers’ Oro rum 2017 USA Rum of the Year. Montanya is a craft rum distillery out of Crested Butte, Colo. that uses old-world artisan traditions, combining science with art. Its Oro rum is distilled from raw Louisiana sugarcane and aged for 12 months in an American Oak Barrel, which previously aged Colorado Whiskey. Montanya’s rum uses only four natural American ingredients: non-GMO sugar cane, mountain spring water, yeast, and a touch of caramelized Rocky Mountain honey. Oro has hints of caramel, black pepper, chocolate, red chili, vanilla, and coffee. Unlike many dark aged rums, Oro never receives molasses caramel or artificial colorings/flavorings.

“We submitted Oro to this competition because of our increasing distribution in the EU and to help raise awareness about Montanya beyond the U.S.,” says Karen Hoskin, co-founder/owner of Montanya Distillers. “To receive this recognition at such a highly respected competition overseas was unexpected and such an exciting sign for things to come in Europe for us.”

After four years of trying to find the ideal solution for distribution in the EU, Montanya now bottles its rum in Spain. The hurdle Montanya had to overcome is that the EU uses only 700 ml bottles and the U.S. uses 750 ml bottles. 700 ml glass bottles are mostly manufactured in Europe. Montanya didn’t want to ship the bottles to Colorado from Europe only to ship them back overseas filled with rum for distribution. It was too inefficient, time-consuming, expensive and environmentally impactful.

“The big question for us was, how can we be a sustainable company if we are shipping heavy glass all over the world?” says Karen. “Luckily, the answer came through an incredible partnership in Spain with a small bottling company which receives our bulk rum distilled and proofed in Colorado, and bottles it for the EU.”

The first shipment sent over in 2016 was presold to Italian and German distributors. Montanya Distillers is currently negotiating additional contracts, which have potential to double their company’s volume of production in 2017.

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