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Kauai's tasty, mai tai-ready Koloa Hawaiian Rum now award-winning, too

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On the other hand, it was still a functioning food-processing plant with some of the equipment necessary to produce small-batch rum. And it was available.

Schredder and his partners didn’t just buy the building. They bought the company and brought Kukui back.

“The family is very grateful to Greg because he’s taken on this rum business and also decided to continue our legacy with Kukui products,” says Fay Tateishi. “The family is really happy.”
It’s not just the family that has strong memories of Kukui. “Everywhere I go,” says Schredder, “I meet people who worked there or picked fruit for Kukui. It’s a great feeling to put it back on the shelves.”

Schredder has modernized production, but with the original 1931 recipes. He’s also adding new products, the first a Mai Tai mix. Of course, a Mai Tai mix seems to suit his major product perfectly. He named his rum Koloa, after Kauai’s first sugar mill.

Schredder and his partners brought in first-rate consultants in every step of the rum production. “I’m too old to want to learn from too many mistakes,” he says. “We wanted to get it right from the get-go.”

They also found the right equipment, including a 1947 Kentucky Still once used to make Jack Daniels Whiskey.

Koloa Rum Co.'s tasting room, where you can sample rum straight or with Hawaiian Kukui Brnd Mai Tai Mix. Photo by Kicka Witte.

The rum, with its elegant, Old-Hawaii-style label, began commercial production just last October. There are three small-batch rums—white, gold and dark. All are remarkable for their smoothness and flavor profile.

Want to taste them? The company has built a tasting room at Kilohana Plantation. Kilohana, near Lihue, is already home to a restored sugar mansion, a restaurant, a number of galleries and boutiques, a plantation railroad ride and luau grounds. Koloa Rum’s facility is brand new, built in Hawaii plantation style so that it blends into its surroundings.

In the wood-accented tasting room, you can sample the rum, either straight or with Kukui Mai Tai mix. In the adjacent company store you’ll find art, Koloa Rum accessories, Kukui-brand products and, of course, rum.

Koloa has gained rapid acceptance on Kauai. Early adopters included the Beach House Restaurant, Duke’s Canoe Club, the Kauai Marriott Resort, the Koa Kea and the Kauai Hilton.

In coming months, you will find the rum behind the bar in more Kauai outlets. “People seem excited to have a genuine, premium local product,” says Schredder.

He seems excited, as well. “It’s all turned out to be a bigger deal than I expected,” he says. “We’ve created 35 jobs so far, we saved Kukui, and we’ve got the tasting room open. Oh, yeah, and the rum. Pretty good rum, don’t you think?”

Koloa Rum Co. Premium Hawaiian Rums are now also available for purchase at select liquor retailers throughout Hawaii. In California, you’ll find it at Hi Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa. For more information, visit the Koloa Rum Co. website.

Want to mix some mai tais right now? Click here for recipes for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Mai Tai and Moose Mai Tai

Koloa Rum bottle photo (pg. 1): David Croxford

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