Rum has always been my favorite spirit, dating back to my first taste of Bacardi and Seven-Up decades ago. Imagine my delight at learning about a rum tasting room at the Kilohana Plantation in Kauai, which is known as the “Garden Island of Hawaii.” We recently spent a week on Kauai and had a great visit to the Koloa Rum Co. for a free rum tasting. Free? Yes, that’s right!
More about the types of rum we tried, but first a bit of history. The Kilohana Plantation actually was a producing sugar cane plantation until 2009, when it finally became cost prohibitive to harvest the cane any longer. For a couple of centuries that wasn’t the case, however. They brought in a cheap labor force from all over the world, but the price to cut sugar cane has gone up considerably from a salary of less than a dollar a day. The first sugar cane mill was in Koloa town and the actual word “koloa” means “tall cane.”
But you want to know about the rum made today, right? Most other rum distilleries use molasses to make rum and although many can concoct a tasty result, the Koloa rum is made with pure raw cane sugar. Each batch is doubled distilled, one batch at a time, and the result is 22 awards so far for a superior product.
We first tasted their dark rum, which was the first variety to win a gold medal. Our friendly rum pourer and informant then poured their spiced rum, which had decided bits of cinnamon and vanilla flavor to it. After that came the coconut rum, which, with its natural flavors, has twice the strength of Malibu rum. We were advised that the coconut rum mixes incredibly well with “POG,” which is the nickname locals give to pineapple, orange and guava juice. The last variety is their new coffee rum – yum!
To participate in the free tasting, all we needed to do was sign up in the Koloa Rum gift shop. They limit each hourly tasting to a dozen folks, but are quick to invite you back another day for more samples. By checking out their website, you can find a list of mainland distributors. We brought home a bottle of the spiced variety and I’m sure every sip will take us back to that island paradise of Kauai.