W W W. C R A F T BY U M H . C O M woo customers and bartenders for much longer than I could. social and environmental performance to balance profit and purpose, which is a pretty big deal]. Also, I wasn’t taken seriously for a really long time. Thankfully, well-respected people love my rum. Those influencers had to lend me their credibility instead of me being able to cultivate it on my own. That’s the reality of being a woman in this business. Everything moves faster when a respect- able male colleague vouches for you. What do you want your legacy to be in this industry? Is that why you got involved with the Women’s Distillery Guild? When women have access to female mentors in this industry, they feel more supported and less lonely. They can ask questions without losing credibility. I could mentor people all day long, but I didn’t think I was the only woman out there to offer solid advice. I wanted to establish a network. Many more women are doing this work than when I started 10 years ago, but we still only account for 10 or 15 percent. I felt that I could make a difference if I could rally a group of experts to make a “home” for women who may otherwise just throw in the towel. Through the Guild, we can help bal- ance the gender imbalance over time. Generally speaking, the distillery industry is pretty lacking in diversity, which isn’t a good thing for the workplace. If I can help cultivate a skill base, confidence and a sense of belonging, I can send women breaking into this workplace feeling more resilient and empowered. Women also have a much harder time getting access to capital. Very few owners and success stories are female. I know that’s because we have a harder time accessing investment and financ- ing. The Guild helps build the credibility and give visibility to those who are crushing it and outper- forming expectations, which catches the attention of financiers. What are you most proud of accomplishing professionally (thus far, anyway)? My proudest professional accomplishment is having women distillers and distiller owners say, “I had no idea I could do this until I saw what you do. I had no idea it was possible.” A woman visited me three and a half years ago who was considering opening a distillery. I talked through her fears, challenges, and the hurdles she didn’t think she could clear. She made a return visit to thank me this year just three weeks after opening the doors of her distillery. She said she wasn’t sure she could have done it if we hadn’t had that conversation. That’s powerful. I also hosted a speed-men- toring seminar recently where several women come up to me with tears in their eyes afterward because they had never once had a chance to talk with other female distillers before that day. I would love to be known as having helped reinvigorate the American rum tradition. We had rum distilled in the US back in the colonial times. Rum was used as currency. It went away as an Amer- ican tradition for a long time as we migrated rum distilling to the islands. I would love to think I have had a hand bringing it back to American heritage. I think we’re on our way. I’d also love for my rum to be respected as one of the top American rums. I don’t want to be the only one, I want to be part of a movement. What is something that would surprise others to learn about you? When you look at my overall experience, I kind of have this split personality of alter egos, the yin and the yang. I spent part of my life as a tribal fusion belly dancer. I don’t do it as much now because of how busy my companies are, but it’s something I have deeply enjoyed. I also spent part of my career as a hotshot firefighter, which is a crew specially trained to respond to fires in remote regions. A belly-dancing hotshot rum distillery owner is not too common out there. [Writer’s note: Hotshot crews are compared to Special Forces in the military – cool, huh?]. What is your go-to cocktail? It’s hard to pick just one, so I’ll pick two. I really enjoy one of our signature cocktails – the Basil Paradisi. It’s been my go-to for years. We infuse our Platino with basil and mix that with freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime juice and a touch of simple syrup. We serve it shaken and straight up in martini glass with tiny floating ice chips and a basil garnish. It’s refreshingly “medicinal” if you ever feel a cold coming on. I also adore our Ti’ Exclusivia (a variant on a Ti’ Punch). It’s an easy to make, delicately balanced “martini” – with just fresh lime, simple syrup, and our dark Exclusiva rum. Another proud moment was receiving the American Distillery Institute (ADI) Bubble Cap Award in 2013. Montanya is the first woman-owned company to receive the award – and the first rum distillery. The ADI has a long-established history honoring distilleries. It was a true honor that we distinguished ourselves among so many beautiful craft distilleries. Montanya is 100-percent wind powered. Why is sustainability important to this industry? Yes, we are 100-percent wind powered and 110-percent carbon offset. I’m proud to say we are at the forefront in the craft distilling world when it comes to social and environmental sustainability. There is so much our industry can be doing to reduce our impact and footprint. We all use our fair share of electricity, water, natural gas, cups, straws, freight, etc. We can do a considerably better job sourcing everything for less impact. I decided long ago that this change starts with me. Our non-GMO sugar cane comes from family farmers in Louisiana, who grow and mill the cane for us, and our water comes from one of the purest spring and snowmelt charged aquifers in the U.S. We have 23 daily actions focused on being a force for good in business. We recently received our B Corp status and are the first Colorado distillery to be certified and only the third distillery in the US. [Writer’s note: Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Ingrao © Hundred-to-One LLC 2018. All rights reserved.