CEO/Co-founder of Montanya Distillers & Zoetica
Karen is the CEO/Co-Founder of Montanya Distillers and Zoetica. When Karen started Montanya in 2008, she was the only female in a male-dominated industry in the US. This impacted her ability to gain respect, buy materials, sell her products, be safe from sexual harassment, and be taken seriously in her work. It also impacted the willingness of banks to lend her money, the willingness of investors to get involved, and venture capital firms to say yes (in 2018, female founders received 2% of venture capital in America and 4% of bank financing).
Karen watched male colleagues with smaller and less successful companies access resources regularly denied to her. Yet she persisted, stayed focused, and refused to let circumstances deny her success. Now, after more than a decade in business, her companies produce double-digit growth annually, and she is one of the larger private-sector employers in her community. She is known for training and mentoring women nationally, and she is the founder of The Women’s Distillery Guild, which is now part of Women of the Vine and Spirits (WOTVS). Karen leads the Women in Distilling group at WOTVS.
Karen has been operating environmentally sustainable businesses—a craft distillery, bar, and restaurant, and a lifestyle product line for zero-waste living—for more than a decade. Karen’s connection to stewardship has been a lifelong passion, but it becomes most meaningful to her when she goes beyond talk and into action as a business owner with 25 employees. It takes a daily commitment to live the ideals of the triple bottom line (people, environment, and profits), but this commitment helps Karen sleep at night as a business owner. She knows she is taking care of impacts up and downstream of her companies, all day every day.
Karen has seen double-digit growth every year since Montanya began 11 years ago and Montanya rums are now sold in 44 states and overseas. She recently received funding from Constellation Brands.
Glass: Martini or Coupe (option: rocks glass, top with soda)
In a cocktail shaker with ice:
1/2 fresh lime, juiced,
1.5 oz Maharaja Syrup,
1.5 oz Ginger Syrup,
3 oz Montanya Oro rum
Shake vigorously. Strain and serve. Garnish with a floating lime wheel and three Cardamom pods. Rim the glass with a combination of Turbinado sugar, powdered cinnamon and nutmeg (or other favorite spices).
2 1/2 c water
2 1/2 c natural or organic granulated sugar
2 1/2 T whole cloves
7 whole cinnamon sticks
25 Cardamom pods
2 1/2 t whole black peppercorns
Break all spices into small pieces in a mortar and pestle (do not powder the spices or substitute a powdered version). Place all spices in a dry frying pan and toast until lightly smoking and fragrant (do not burn). Transfer to a saucepan and add water and sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 45 minutes. Transfer to a jar, refrigerate and chill for 2-3 days before straining off spices.
Fill a 40 oz. Vitamix or durable blender carafé with chopped (but not peeled), fresh ginger root. Add 1 3/4 cups fresh lemon juice, 1 3/4 cups Simple Syrup and six fresh mint leaves. Blend until finely puréed. Strain through a fine strainer or cheesecloth bag. Refrigerate for up to 15 days.
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