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Introducing Kōloa Kaua`i Hawaiian Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 3, 2010

It was at the Rum Renaissance in Miami Florida this past May that I was first introduced to Kōloa Kaua`i Hawaiian Rum. The Kōloa Rum Company had been ‘up and rumming’ for approximately one year, and in spite of the competition from much more experienced rum companies, the Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum garnered one of prestigious gold medals at the Rumxp Tasting Competition which was in held conjunction with the event. This was a remarkable feat considering that the license to distill alcohol had been issued only one year previous, on April 1, 2009.

So I decided I had better get to know this company a little better, and after I emailed my information request, I was contacted by Jeanne Toulon, Director of Public Relations, for the Kōloa Rum Company.  Jeanne was only too happy to help me out and soon deluged me with news clippings, a cool video and as much information as she could stuff into the large brown envelope that she sent my way.  I was even given a small sample of the crystallized brown sugar from the Gay and Robinson Plantation which is the basic raw material from which all of the Kōloa Rum is distilled.  (I should add that her generosity also extended to the delivery of three bottles of the Company’s, Kōloa Kaua`i Hawaiian Rum, so that I could sample and review them at my leisure here on my blog.)

In case you are wondering, the Kōloa Rums are made using a vintage 1210 gallon vintage copper pot still imported from Kentucky.  This copper still was first shipped by train to the west coast and then by boat to the Islands of Hawaii.  Constructed just after World War II, the still was previously used to distill Kentucky whiskey.

The actual base material for the distillation is not molasses, but rather the Gay and Robinson Plantation crystallized sugar.  I am told that the sugar has a higher than normal molasses content and indeed it carries a wonderful molasses aroma.  From this distillate, and using the vintage copper pot still, all of the Kōloa Rum is made in a batch style.  The resulting white rum is about as pure as rum can be,  bottled fresh with no barrel aging.  The gold rum is just as fresh as the white, with the gold colour stemming from the addition of caramelized Gay and Robinson Plantation crystal sugar.  And finally, the dark rum, which also uses fresh rum, is enhanced with the same caramelized sugar as well as a secret recipe of spices to give it the dark rich colour and flavour which resulted in the Gold Medal at Rum Renaissance.  In a way these are throwback rums made in the manner and style of the past when it was entirely the blender’s mastery that was needed to sooth the spirit rather than the use of oak barrel aging.

The The Kōloa Rum Company has already broken new ground being the first company to legally produce rum on the Island of Kaua`i.  They have also recently established a Plantation style tasting room for visitors to the distillery to enjoy their rums, and they have won a Gold medal at Rum Renaissance.  All of this after merely one year of operation! I think it is obvious to see why I was excited to learn more.

So over the next several weeks I will be embarking on a Hawaiian odyssey of sorts. I will review each bottle of Kōloa rum, putting them through the rigors of my tasting methodology.  What the results of my reviews will be, I cannot say at this point, but what I can say is that based upon the accolades they have already earned, and based how hard they have worked in their first year of operation, I am entering upon my Hawaiian odyssey with a very positive outlook.  You can look forward to the reviews over the next several weeks.

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