Kōloa Kaua`i Spice Rum!

Koloa bottle

Up for review is the spiced rum from Kōloa Rum in Hawaii. I wrote about Kōloa rums before and their range of rums including the spiced, but now i got a chance to sit down with it all by itself.

This is to me a cocktail rum, great for mixing up delicious tropical cocktails and tiki drinks, it fits well with from where it comes but of course it can be used in other types of cocktails as well. But me i`m sticking to the tropics!

Interesting is that Kōloa Rum is not made from molasses but instead it´s made from crystallized sugar (but it contains molasses – it actually has a high level of molasses in it) but that sets it apart from both pure molasses based rums and rhum agricole which is made from sugar cane juice. All of the rums are distilled twice in a 1210 gallon copper pot still with a copper column and condenser. The still was built by Liberty Coppersmiths in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1947 and later refurbished for use in the distillery.

The Kōloa Rum company is very young! they have only made rum since 2009 and have already won no less than 17 awards – most of them at the Rum Renaissance Festival in Miami and then at the  San Francisco World Spirits Competition, well done!

Koloa awards

Kauai, also known as the Garden Island, is where Kōloa Rum is made and Kōloa rum is a handcrafted single batch rum containing pure mountain waters of  Mt. Wai`ale`ale, one of the wettest spots on Earth. The Kōloa plantation was established in 1835 in Kōloa Town and the first harvest which produced two tons of raw sugar was in 1837 and it was around that time that rum production began, so rum does have quite some history on the Hawaiian islands.

There is a Tasting Room & Company Store, located on the grounds of the Historic Kilohana Plantation where visitors can sample from the range of rums and purchase Kōloa rum items and also Hawaiian Fruit Specialties and its Kukui Brand which was founded in 1931 by the Tateishi Family as a means of preserving the wild guava, pineapple, lilikoi, and other abundant fruits of Kaua`i.

I was happily surprised when i heard that they were going to feature one of my cocktails that i made in my other post, the Spiced Coconaut on their new bag that soon will be in the shop! i used some of this spiced rum as a float in that drink. I hope i can one day go there and visit them! i have always been dreaming about going to Hawaii…and here is the bag, this is where your purchases from the store goes…

Koloa bag collage

Nose and Taste

The first thing that hits my nose from the spiced rum is vanilla and cinnamon with clear notes, followed by caramel and spice. In the mouth i taste cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, spice, sugarcane, some oak, quite well balanced and smooth. It would add some real nice spice notes to cocktails, especially if they contain pineapple juice since the strongest flavor is cinnamon.

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

Kōloa Kaua`i Spice is a rich and fragrant rum.

Kōloa Kaua`i Spice in Cocktails

As for cocktails with the Kōloa Spiced Rum, the Spiced Coconaut was as i mentioned earlier really appreciated by the folks at the Kōloa Rum and and they made it to be featured on their cocktail catalogue as well as on their Facebook page and it looked this nice:

The recipe doesn`t call for just the spiced rum, rather it´s used as a float together with Kōloa Kaua`i Dark rum and as such it did very well. Here`s the recipe again:

Koloa Rum Spiced Coconaut cocktail

Spiced 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 and float Kōloa spiced rum on top.

Garnish with tropical flower and pineapple leaves.

Next tropical cocktail is strong and tall…and deceptive:

Hawaiian Scratch…  instead of Tropical Itch…

Koloa Hawaiian Itch

Tiki drinks often have some funny names, the Tropical Itch which is the inspiration for this drink was created by Harry Yee, “The Dean of Hawaiian Bartenders,” who is said to have been the first to garnish a drink with an orchid and a paper parasol.

2 oz Kōloa Kaua`i Spice rum
0.5 oz Lost Spirits 151 Cuban Rum
1 oz Bourbon
0.5 oz Ferrand Dry Curacao
6 oz passion fruit juice
1/2 tsp juice from a maraschino cherry jar to top
A couple dashes angostura bitters to top
Squeeze of fresh lime juice (about 1/4th oz)
Garnish pineapple leaves and slice, maraschino cherry, mint

Shake with ice cubes and strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice, add a half tsp of juice from a maraschino cherry jar and a couple dashes angostura bitters.

Fruity, spicy and quite mild but very yummy…but it´s deceptive – the 151 Cuban will sneak up on you…

Here`s another cocktail for you from Jeff Berry`s Grog Log with the rums switched out for Kōloa Kaua`i Spice and Coconut:

Noa Noa

Koloa Noa Noa

1oz lime juice (or 3/4 of a lime cut into wedges)
1tsp brown sugar
1 dash Angostura bitters
6 mint leaves
1 oz Kōloa Kaua`i Spice rum
2 oz Kōloa Coconut rum
mint sprig, for garnish

Muddle lime juice or wedges with sugar, bitters, and mint. Add ice and rum, and shake. Strain into a double rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig and spent lime shell.

Cool and not too sweet, spicy, minty and with a hint of coconut.

The spiced rum is funny to play with and is versatile to mix with in a lot of cocktails and tiki drinks, i could do many more but time doesn`t permit…that`ll be another time.

Kōloa rums can be purchased at various retailers in the US and also in Australia, Canada and China (see the website) and in Europe at La Gourmandine Rhumerie in France, also online.

From Hawaii to you with Kōloa rum – Aloha!

See other Koloa Spice rum reviews on RumRatings

Kōloa – A Handcrafted Rums from Hawaii

koloa dark label

Hailing from the “garden island” Kaua`i in Hawaii – Kōloa rum is a unique single batch handcrafted 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.