Look out, Kona coffee and Maui pineapple. A unique operation on Kauai is tapping into the local sugar industry to produce Hawaii’s newest island inspiration: Koloa Rum.
At press time, the Koloa Rum Corporation (KRC) was targeting Sept. 1 as the launch date for production, bottling, distribution and sales of the beverage using Kauai sugar, according to KRC president Greg Schredder.
“The original idea to produce locally-made rum stemmed from a desire to support Kauai’s sugar industry and provide unique value-added products that would have local, national and international appeal,” said Schredder.
The primary distillery is located in the south Kauai town of Kalaheo, but clients can learn about the process — and savor the results — in KRC’s newly-constructed Koloa Rum Tasting Room and Company Store, the first and only one of its kind in Hawaii. It is located on the grounds of the historic Kilohana Plantation in Puhi, just west of Lihue. Along with rum, the store showcases Hawaiian-made food, logo products and gift items. While there, clients can also view and buy local art by island resident Raymond A. Massey, known for his recreations of significant marine historical events.
Schredder said rum is synonymous with sugarcane, and most of the Caribbean islands have at least one distillery.
“There is no reason why Hawaii shouldn’t develop a vibrant and successful rum industry of its own,” he said. “There is a compelling story to be told about [the Kauai town of] Koloa, home of the first successful sugar plantation in Hawaii.”
“This beautiful new venue serves as the focal point for information and contact for our visitors,” Schredder continued. “It provides the opportunity for us to promote the historical aspect of rum and sugarcane in Hawaii in an authentic setting.” Old photographs, artifacts and exhibits have been incorporated into the attraction. A fully functional copper pot still has been installed on-site, and staff members provide clients with a virtual tour of rum production, from sugar cane to the final product.
KRC’s family of products will eventually include Kauai White, Kauai Gold, Kauai Dark and Kauai Spiced rum. In the future it plans to expand its line to include ready-to-drink cocktails, cordials, liqueurs, rum cakes and other unique baked products.