Kōloa Coconut Rum

Koloa Coconut-RG

Product of:  Hawaii, USA
Aged:  NA
Price: $33
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Context: Flavored/Spiced Rum
RG Rating: 8.5

Tasting Notes 
Extremely Smooth. Color/Appearance:  In the bottle, Kōloa Coconut rum is as bright and clear as a full moon over Kaua’i, and a brief lava flow of legs after swirling in your tasting glass.  Right away you smell coconut, then a more subtle aroma of pineapple appears along with a fresh sweet herbal essence the way mint brightens things up, and macadamia that adds a bit of dry nutty texture to balance out the profile. The initial taste is yummy like toasted coconut, and the medium-heavy body replicates the oiliness of real coconut.  The finish is of moderate length; very smooth coconut flavor is prevalent to the end, with residual sweetness on your lips.

When Rum Gallery asked about Kōloa’s flavoring process, the company replied:  “Kaua’i Coconut includes the absolute finest flavor essences and flavor compounds available and fully satisfies stringent industry standards and governmental regulations for an “all-natural” coconut-flavored Rum.”  Good enough for me.  In Rum Gallery’s side-by-side taste comparisons between Koloa Coconut rum and two lesser-proof coconut rums from the Caribbean, the Hawaiian rum was the clear winner.

Kōloa had their first bottling in 2009, and they’ve quickly developed expertise in a few years.  At Miami Rum Renaissance in April 2011, I had a chance to listen to Bob Gunter, President of Kōloa rum, describe his efforts to produce great rum on Hawai’i.  

Gunter:  “Quality starts with Great Sugar, Volcanic Soil, Right Climate, and water filtered through the volcanic soil.”  He elaborated by saying:  “Hawai’i produces 18 tons per acre on average, with some of the highest sucrose content.  Kōloa is distilled from raw crystal sugar that contains a touch of molasses in it.  Mt. Waialeale is one of the wettest places on Earth.  It’s water is filtered through the islands volcanic soil, resulting in “Pure Mountain Rain water.”  Koloa’s yeast strain was developed on Guadeloupe.

Koloa Coconut gang-RG

Kōloa’s 1210-gallon vintage hybrid solid Copper Pot Still was manufactured in 1947 by Liberty Coppersmith in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  It was last used by a major distillery to make Bourbon and other distilled spirit products in Kentucky. In the early 2000’s Kōloa Rum purchased and refurbished it and then shipped to the West Coast by train, where it was loaded onto a ship for the final journey to Kalaheo.  The hand-hammered copper pot still incorporates a solid copper column with seven (7) individual plates. Koloa claims their process yields a high-proof, cleaner, more polished distillate.

Kōloa Coconut rum is one of the best tasting coconut rums available, certainly delivering a more authentic flavor than the market leaders.  In summary, Kōloa has superior coconut flavor and nearly twice the ABV - 40% - compared to the leaders’ wimpy 20-something percent.  Kōloa is about twice the price too.  Ask yourself: Are you looking to add a slice of heavenly Hawaiian coconut to your cocktails, or something contrived and comprised mostly of sugar and 75-80% water?  Yeah, I thought so.  Go to the source, choose Kōloa.

Reviewed:  October 2013 at The Rum Gallery, USA

© Dave Russell 2017