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Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum

Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum  80.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 16, 2010

Photo courtesy Evans (

It was at the Rum Renaissance in Miami Florida this past May that I was first introduced to Kōloa Kaua`i Hawaiian Rum. Although The Kōloa Rum Company had been ‘up and rumming’ for only a little more than a year, 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.

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. )

Her generosity also extended to a sample bottle of each of the rums in the Kōloa range to review at my leisure here on my blog. Sadly I have come to the last of these sample bottles, happily it is a sample of the Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum, the Gold medal winner at Rum Renaissance.


In the Bottle 4/5

The Kōloa Dark Rum is presented in a typical flagon style bottle which is in the same style as the previous Kōloa rums I have reviewed. The only real difference in the label from one rum type to the next is the colour of the broad stripe at the bottom of the label. The design is clean and minimalistic but not unattractive. I should note that the label on the back of the bottle provides a short historical paragraph regarding Hawaii’s first in sugar plantation Kōloa Town from which The Kōloa Rum Company derived its name.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The actual base material for the distillation of the Kōloa Dark Rum is not molasses, but rather the Gay and Robinson Plantation crystallized sugar. I am told that this sugar has a higher than normal molasses content, and indeed a sample of the sugar given to me carries a wonderful molasses aroma. From this distillate, and using a vintage copper pot still, all of the Kōloa Rum is made in a batch style. The Dark Rum, which is a non aged fresh rum, is enhanced with caramelized sugar from the Gay and Robinson Plantation (the same sugar as is used in the distillation) as well as a secret recipe of spices to give it a dark rich colour. In a way this is a throwback style of rum made in the manner and style of the past when it was entirely the blender’s mastery that was needed to sooth and flavour the spirit.

In the glass, The Kōloa Dark Rum displays itself as a deep brown/bronze spirit which brings a rich scent of vanilla and caramel to the nose. Other spices hint at their presence as well. I sense cloves, nutmeg and a vague suggestion of cinnamon, but these spices are indistinct. Identification is more a game of guesswork, and I would not be surprised if other perceptions were different than mine.

In the Mouth 48/60

The rum is gentle and brings forward initial flavours of vanilla, dark molasses, and sweet caramel. A layer of hotter spices lies underneath and warms the mouth. In particular I seem to get a nice accent of cloves which brings about a certain depth of flavour. As I sip the rum, I become aware of charred flavours in the glass no doubt a result of the added caramelized sugars which gives the rum its rich dark colouration.

I found the addition of a single ice-cube added expression to the vanilla flavour and to an extent muted the caramel sweetness. This made the rum much more enjoyable to sip neat.

In the Throat 12/15

The finish was relatively smooth, although the hotter spices seemed to build in the finish providing a little more warmth in the throat than I was expecting.

The Afterburn 8./10

The Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum was awarded a Gold Award in the RumXP International Tasting Competition at the Miami Rum Renaissance Festival .  Given that The Kōloa Rum Company has been producing rum for only a short while, this must be considered a stunning achievement.

For my part, I found the The Kōloa Dark Rum to be very pleasant.  It is not in the style of dark rums which want to knock you over with overwhelmingly strong flavours and spices. Instead it is easy to sip, and the gentle spiciness it brings forward works very well in cocktails.

Suggested Recipes

I found it was easy to mix the Kōloa Dark Rum into bar drinks and cocktails.  In particular, I found that when mixed with cola, the rum tasted very nice. The added spiciness was a welcome addition to the simple rum and coke.  In that theme my first cocktail suggestion is a Rum and Coke… but with a rather elegant twist.

Kaua`i Cola Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum
1 1/2 oz Sparkling White Wine
fill with Cola

cracked Ice
a slice of Lime

Mix in a tumbler half full of cracked ice
Garnish with a slice of Lime

My second cocktail is a version of the Cosmopolitan except that I lengthened it with ice and turned it into a swizzle.


Kaua`i Hawaiian Swizzle

1 1/4 oz Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum
3/4 oz Kōloa Kaua`i Gold Hawaiian Rum
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz cranberry juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Cracked Ice

Shake all the ingredients over ice
Strain into a tumbler half full of cracked ice
Stir until the glass frosts

Garnish with a chunk of Pineapple

Please enjoy the cocktails responsibly!

One Response to “Kōloa Kaua`i Dark Hawaiian Rum”

  1. Patrick Halstead said

    The tasting room on the plantation site on Kauai is well worth a visit (as is the plantation main estate house itself). I have been there several times, fortunately, and the staff claim additional rums, flavored or otherwise, are imminent. The associations with these Kauai vacations (and the qualities you have outlined) help make this rum a fixture in the cabinet although it may be difficult to find.

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