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Kōloa – A Handcrafted Rum from Hawaii

koloa dark label

Hailing from the “garden island” Kaua`i in Hawaii – Kōloa rum is a unique single batch premium rum that is made from Hawaiian sugarcane and pure mountain waters of Kaua`i. It`s not made from molasses but from crystalized sugar with a high level of molasses in it setting it apart from other rums.

The making of rum has a long history on this island dating back to 1835 when the first harvest of sugar was made producing produced two tons of raw sugar from the Kōloa Plantation in Kōloa Town.

Today, Kaua`i’s  sugarcane still thrives in the rich volcanic soil typical for Hawaii, nurtured by the pure waters of Mt. Wai`ale`ale, the wettest spot on Earth.

Visitors to the island can taste the rums at the plantation-style Tasting Room & Company Store, located on the grounds of the Historic Kilohana Plantation.

The first batch of rum was distilled and bottled in September 2009. All of the rums are distilled twice in a 1210 gallon copper pot still.

The company have made rum since 2009 and have already won no less than 11 awards – most of them at the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami and then at the  San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Tasting the rums

What i got here to try out is their coconut, spiced, dark, white and gold rums! these are quite intriguing rums so where to start?

The bottles labels shows the plantation-style Tasting Room & Company Store and at the top of the necks of the bottles is drawn the map of the Hawaiian islands.

The bottles have plastic screw corks and even though real cork the old fashioned way is more “rummy” and romantic the screw corks are more practical – here´s to personal preference….

I think the one i was the most curious about was the coconut rum – because i have yet to find a good coconut flavored rum…most flavored rums honestly tastes like crap..

They either taste artificial or they taste too much and are cloyingly oversweet and i often find it to be the same with many spiced rums – and i got a spiced rum here too so this gonna be interesting…

This tasting have been done after tasting the rums several times which doesn´t show in this post and the rums have been tasted neat, with ice, water and in cocktails.

koloa dark and coconut

Kaua`i Coconut (80 proof)

On the nose it has light and sweet hints of coconut and it´s not too much either and i like that.

Taking a sip reveals a surprisingly smooth and natural tasting coconut rum which doesn´t have any of the cloyingly sweet and artificial flavors i have come across many times before.

The flavor also have a light crispness to it and it´s mild and sweet but not too sweet.

What i can feel on the palate is coconut and hints of vanilla and sugarcane. This is just fresh! and i`d say it´s a very good coconut rum, very enjoyable!

Kaua`i Dark  (80 proof)

It has a rich nose with hints of coffee and burnt sugar which makes me wanna have a sip…

The flavor to me is that of wood, vanilla, molasses and burnt sugar. Funny how i can feel coffee in the nose but not in the flavor…

Even more interesting is how i can find wood in the flavor when this rum have not been aged at all. Must be the blend of “spices” and caramel used to produce the dark color? and what spices they are i have no idea. It`s heavy on the vanilla too and something charred or toasted – maybe this is what i feel tastes like wood…

To me it´s a mixing rather than sipping rum unless you like vanilla a lot! And this rum is dark in every sense of the word – great for tiki drinks in my opinion.. I tried this rum in a coconaut and i think it was great.

I have a feeling that this rum is gonna grow on me when i continue to try it in various tropical rum and tiki drinks but also wanna try it with sugarcane coke. You`ll see it more on this blog.

koloa spiced, white and gold

Kaua`i White  (80 proof)

The white rum is distilled fresh and not aged and it´s a very pure rum with a clear color.

On the nose is a light whiff of vegetal notes and sweet sugarcane.

On the palate it´s rather dry, just a slight sugarcane sweetness, some vanilla, maybe a hint of citrus. Should be good in a daiquiri and i`m gonna make one because the daiquiri is to me is a sort of test drink for rums – a bad rum cannot possibly make a good daiquiri!

And as i suspected – it made a great daiquiri…

My conclusion of the white rum is that it´s good for both sipping and mixing and should be good in many other cocktails.

Kaua`i Gold  (80 proof)

This is a pale golden rum and the color comes from caramelized sugar and just like the white rum it has not been aged.

The nose is light with sweet sugarcane and a hint of vanilla paired with a little bit of fresh vegetal notes.

The flavor is light and sweet with hints of molasses. It`s a light rum and goes well in a daiquiri just like the white. It`s surprisingly mild and best to use in simple drinks, and i found that it pairs very well with pineapple juice.

Kaua`i Spice  (80 proof)

And so finally we get to the spiced rum. As for with flavored rums i`m always a bit suspicious when it comes to spiced rums. But i still try to approach every (to me) new rum with an open mind.

It sure does have a spicy nose…to me it´s hints of cinnamon bark, vanilla bean and maybe clove? there´s a lot going on here and i cannot detect all the flavors.

Then my mouth is filled with spice….it´s like an explosion of spice actually.

It´s sweet but not too sweet,  it´s spicy but well balanced – and there´s some hints of  roots and nuts? I wonder what`s in it? there´s also something astringent, i guess that´s what brings me to roots.

I used this as float in the Spicy Coconaut and it added quite some spice to the drink so the next time i should use a little bit less. Spiced rums can easily be overpowering and a little usually goes a long way.

This spiced rum is good and it definitely is a balanced blend of spices and what i`m guessing – roots and nuts. It also has long finish.

They have made a great spiced rum but i wouldn´t use it as sipping rum, only to mix with, trying to sip it would simply be too much.

To wrap it up:

What amazes me is that the The Kōloa Rum Company is so young – they have been producing rum for only a short while and already producing solid rums that has won 11 medals!

Overall i think the Kōloa rums are good, especially for mixing even though they do sip well – especially with some ice added – except for the spiced.

First i couldn`t point out what it was that made these rums taste differently from other rums but then i read that they use crystalized sugar produced at the nearby Gay and Robinson Sugar Factory with a high level of molasses in it – and that explained it!

And then of course the terroir* is always an important factor to any rums flavor.

*Terroir - the complete natural environment in which a particular spirit or wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.

So now on to the drinks! No less than 3 of the drinks contains coconut flavor so here´s for the coconut lovers! but there´s a tasty rum sour there too…

Coconut Kula

Coconut Kula

0.5 oz fresh lime

0.5 oz grapefruit juice (yellow)

0.5 oz fresh orange juice

0.5 oz honey mix (equal parts water and liquid honey gently heated up to mix and then cooled to room temp)

0.25 oz demerara syrup

2 oz Kōloa coconut rum

Crushed ice

Shake together and strain into a tall zombie glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with pineapple leaf and tropical flower.

Kōloa Rum Sour

koloa rum sour

1 oz Kōloa Kaua`i white rum

1 oz Kōloa Kaua`i gold rum

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

1 egg white

0.5 oz pineapple gomme syrup ( or you can also use simple syrup)

Garnish the foam with Peychaud`s or Creole bitters forming the shape of a “Hawaiian wave”

Shake this hard and long to emulsify the eggwhite and create a good foam, then strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and add as much of the foam as possible to make it thick.

Garnish with the bitters. Create a “Hawaiian wave” by first carefully drop the bitters in the middle and then form the wave with a straw.

Spiced Coconaut

Spicy Coconaut

2 oz Lopez or Coco Real Cream of Coconut

2 oz fresh lime juice

2 oz Kaua`i Dark rum

Float Kōloa Kaua`i Spice ( about 0.25 oz)

Shake it hard to get the Cream of Coconut well mixed in and strain into a coconut mug with ice cubes.

Garnish with a tropical flower and pineapple leaaves.

Kōloa Pina Colada

pinacolada instagram

2 oz Kōloa Kaua`i white (or coconut rum – or use 1 oz each of white and gold or dark for a more flavorful colada)

2 oz cream of coconut (Coco Lopez or Coco Real)

2 oz pineapple juice (preferably fresh)

1 cup crushed ice

Blend or shake and pour into a suitable glass and garnish with pineapple and cherry or tropical flower.

Enjoy! Okole Maluna!

You can read more about  Kōloa rum on their website.

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