Shouldn't rum come from an island? Turns out that's just marketing. "Some of the world's best rum is made at altitude," says Karen Hoskin, co-owner with her husband Brice of Crested Butte's Montanya Distillers. "Rum is aged in porous oak barrels. With the massive temperature shifts of high elevation, those pores open and close." Such cyclical contact with wood adds flavor to the rum. Which is why better Central American rum makers often ship their barrels up to the high country. Then there's the water quality: "We use unadulterated mountain water," says Hoskin. "It's natural."
OK, so mountain rum makes sense. After three years distilling in Silverton, the Hoskins moved the distillery to Crested Butte this summer, where they also opened a second tasting room. The Hoskins distill two varieties of rum in Crested Butte. "Our dark Oro is strong but smooth. It appeals to folks who love whiskey, while our light Platino is fresh and crisp." It's no novelty operation. The Oro just won a silver medal at this year's New York World Wine and Spirits Competition and the Platino was awarded gold at both the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the Rum XP Competition.
Montanya Rum is served neat (all by itself for sipping) or in complex, artisan cocktails at tasting rooms in Crested Butte and Silverton, Colorado. The cocktails combine rum with ingredients that are squeezed, chopped, or muddled fresh for every drink. Here's a sample.
A cold-weather cocktail from Montanya Distillers, in honor of those white-room days on the slopes.
1.75 oz. vanilla-infused Montanya Platino Rum
1.25 oz. Montanya Oro Rum
2 oz. half-and-half
0.5 oz. simple syrup
splash of Orgeat syrup
1 teaspoon crushed almonds
1 teaspoon sugar syrup
pinch of slivered almonds
Mix the Platino rum, Oro rum, half-and-half, simple syrup, and Orgeat syrup in a shaker with ice. Wet a martini glass, rim with sugar syrup, then dip it into crushed almonds. Strain the rum mix into the glass and garnish with almonds.
See more ski town beverages for your drinking pleasure.
From the Early Winter 2011 issue