Hawaiian Rum Distilled on Maui and Kauai
As a follow-up to my article on the breweries found in the islands, I thought I’d check to see what other spirits are made locally. I have previously blogged about the two wineries found in the state, Tedeschi Winery on Maui and Volcano Winery on the Big Island. The twenty-first century has seen two distilleries begin operations in Hawaii that make rum.
While the first batches of rum were produced in 2003, they were not considered good enough to market. After a few trial and error runs and making a few adjustments, including adding a custom water filtration system, their rum got better and better. Today, Haleakala Distillers makes an award winning dark rum which you can find in many stores throughout the islands and on the mainland.
Winner of Gold Medal, 2009 and Silver Medal, 2008 at the International Rum Festivals held in Ybor City, FL. Bottled and sold under the simple names of Maui Dark Rum and Maui Gold Rum, they are made from 100% Maui natural ingredients. This craft distillery is located on the grounds of Haleakala Ranch and as of this writing, tours were not available.
In 2009, they made their first batch of authentic Okolehao. What is Okolehao? Its a spirit made primarily from the root of the ti-plant and sugar. The ti plant stores sugar in its roots, which can be used to ferment alcohol, and the roots keep growing. Enormous roots weighing several hundred pounds can be found under old plants. Real Okolehao probably hasn’t been made for 40 years or more. It’s 80 proof or 40% alcohol content. Made in limited runs, availability is very limited.
The Koloa Rum Company
Yet another award winning distillery has opened in recent years on the island of Kauai. Established in 2008, the Koloa Rum Company distilled and bottled its first run of rum in September of 2009. And, Koloa’s Dark Rum was awarded a Gold Medal at the Rum Renaissance Festival in May, 2010. They currently make four different rums: Kauai White, Kauai Gold, Kauai Dark, and Kauai Spice Rums.
Principal production operations are located in Kalaheo on the grounds of the Kukui Brand facilities. (Kukui Brand is a familiar brand of island jams, jellies, and syrups.) The Koloa Rum Company’s Tasting Room & Store is located on the grounds of the historic Kilohana Plantation near Lihue. You can contact them at (808)246-8900 or www.koloarum.com.
So, now you’ve got the rundown on the alcoholic manufacturing scene in Hawaii. There are two wineries, five microbreweries and one brewery, and two distilleries operating (legally) in the state. Even as little as ten years ago, you would have gotten a different result…no distilleries and one or two different microbreweries were operating then.
Update (8/30/11): Since this post was written, I have learned that I had completely overlooked distilleries that manufacture vodka and Kona Gold Coffee Liqueur! I have written a post covering these five additional distilleries.
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