Ko Hana Rum Distillery
By Marc Donadieu
Glacier City Gazette
With the onset on winter, Alaskans are making plans for Hawaiian getaways. If your destination is Oahu, touring Ko Hana Rum Distillery is a rewarding experience for the eyes, mind and palate.
Ko Hana, which means sugar worker in Hawaiian, makes Hawaiian agricole rum. The distillery is one of only two percent in the world using pure sugar cane juice instead of molasses to make rum. The tour begins with a small glass of freshly pressed before your eyes sugar cane juice.
Then the tour visits the tilapia tanks, which provide the 30-acre sugar cane farm fertilizer for the remaining 39 varietals of cane first brought by the Polynesians to Hawaii. Aquaculture is also used to grow a variety of lettuces for commercial sale to restaurants.
Next, visitors are led to small stands of different types of sugar cane. Some of the stalks are colorful and distinctive, with hues ranging from pink, purple and gold. Then it is off to the still where the alcohol is separated from sugar cane wine, which is undesirable to drink yet yields a wonderful essence at its core.
The tasting room is where visitors get to enjoy the essence of distilled sugar cane juices with four samples. The result is an amazing series of rums that express a surprising variety of flavors that change as they linger on the palate. One of the white rums was made from seven types of sugar cane, while a second was made from a single variety, which was grassy and peppery. The aged rum had spent time in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, which added a much different dimension. Then there was the rum made with cacao and macadamia nut honey that offers a rich depth of flavors.
After a visit to Ko Hana Rum Distillery, you’ll never think of rum in the same way. Visit their website for more details at kohanarum.com/home.