Koloa Rum Tasting Room and Company Store
The first thing you notice when you arrive to the Koloa Rum Tasting Room and Company Store is how beautiful the historic Kilohana Plantation grounds are. It’ll take a few minutes to take it all in before you make your way over to Koloa Rum. As soon as you walk through the doors, be sure to get your name on the rum tasting list.
Koloa Rum Tasting Room
When it was our time in the tasting room, we were led in by our host and rumtender to find Koloa shot glasses waiting at the bar for us- one with our first rum tasting and the other with Kukui Mai Tai mix . We were quickly introduced to the history of Koloa Rum, how it came to be, and its significance to Kauai.
History of Koloa Rum
Koloa Rum Company was founded on Kauai in 2008 to create award winning, premium Hawaiian Rum. Even though rum production coincided with the first raw sugar harvest in 1835, Koloa Rum Company is the first and only licensed distillery in all of Kauai. Today, Kauai’s distinctive sugar cane that thrives off of the rich volcanic soil and pure waters provided by one of the wettest spots on Earth, perfectly complements the unique and delicious flavors of Kauai White, Gold, Dark, Spice, and Coconut Rums.
After closing all of Kauai’s sugarcane plantations took place when it was no longer cost effective, Koloa Rum wanted to bring sugarcane back to the island. Koloa Rum’s recipes have used local sugar as one of their key ingredient right from the start. It’s easy to see how important this local ingredient and its history are to the production of Koloa Rum through the literal translation of their name “ko” meaning cane and “loa” meaning long. Only the long sugarcane of Kauai could be used for this world renowned rum.
Tasting Koloa Rum & Making a Kukui Mai Tai
Our first tasting was Kauai White. Being unaged, this white rum is very pure and clear in color. This rum had the most bite and is one best used in a cocktail, such as a daiquiri, over sipping it. After sampling, we were instructed to pour our white rum slowly over the Mai Tai mix and to repeat with the next two rum tastings.
The pale amber rum made from caramelized sugar gave our next tasting, Kauai Gold, its distinct flavor and color. Sweet sugarcane with hints of molasses creates a light flavor that would be featured perfectly in simpler drinks that highlight the flavor of Kauai Gold. After sampling, we slowly poured some of our gold rum on top of our white rum.
Kauai Dark was our favorite of all of the Koloa Rums. With hints of burnt sugar and vanilla it makes a fantastic sipping rum. We also found it paired wonderfully with guava, pineapple, and Lilikoi juices that we tried during our time on Kauai. This rum was poured slowly over the other rums, as well.
After topping off our glass with a float of the Kauai Dark, we had our own mini version of the Kukui Mai Tai. Each layer beautifully layered on top of each other. Our rumtender said some liked to add pineapple or orange juice to their Kukui Mai Tai, but he preferred it without. Being a bit of Mai Tai snobs favoring the original Mai Tai recipe that has only lime juice, we had to agree with no extra juice being added to our Mai Tais.
After our baby Mai Tais, we sampled the Kauai Spice. Being skeptical of most spiced rums not having the best flavor, we proceeded with caution. Luckily, the spiced rum had a well-balanced spice with hints of cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon. Basically, it tasted like Christmas in your mouth with a long finish. This would be the perfect rum to put out at holiday parties or to have with Egg Nog.
Our second favorite of their rums was their new Kauai Coconut. Flavored rums are another rum that makes us squirmy because in so many cases, they aren’t done correctly. This coconut rum had a crisp, natural coconut flavor that was sweet, but not too sweet.
Koloa Rum Cake with Chocolate Rum Sauce
The end of our tasting was topped off with a slice of rum cake and chocolate rum sauce. The rum cake had macadamia nuts in the bottom and was better than any other rum cake I’d ever eaten with pecans in it. I couldn’t believe I’d never thought to use macadamia nuts in my rum cake recipe before!
All of it paired together deliciously and left you wanting more. So much so that we tried to buy our own mini rum cake and jar of chocolate rum sauce in the Company Store only to discover that sadly, they were out. The lady working at the front counter tried to find out if more were coming, but when she couldn’t get an answer and our waiting around for an hour didn’t result in rum cake of our own to bring home, we left defeated. As you can see, we’d still very much like more of that rum cake and chocolate sauce. At least we got to leave with a few bottles of Kauai Dark and Kauai Coconut to bring back home with us.
Packed for Travel Home
To make it easy to bring bottles of Koloa Rum home, they offer bottle-shaped bubblewrap covers to seal your bottles in. These covers are perfect for meeting TSA’s liquid in checked baggage guidelines. If a bottle does happen to open, they keep your belongings from getting wet. We actually had a bottle open while in flight and we’re so happy to see everything stayed contained inside the bublewrap cover.
If you won’t be checking any baggage, Koloa also offers 3 oz bottles you can fit into a quart sized bag to take on board with you. Not that we were counting, but you can actually fit nine of the minis in your quart sized bag. Who needs lotion when you could be bringing home Koloa Rum?
The Koloa Rum Tasting Room is free to anyone who cares to swing by, where they invite you to try Aloha spirit in a bottle. Make sure to check their tasting schedule before you head out since the hours change depending on the day of the week. Koloa Rum Tasting Room & Company Store is located on the historic Kilohana Plantation at 3-2087 Kaumualii Hwy, Lihue.
Have you ever tried Koloa Rum? What did you think?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2013.