- Established in 2013
- Distilled in Kawaiahe, Hawai’i
- The first distillery on Big Island
Kuleana Rum Works produces an agricole-style rhum, similar to those of Ko Hana Rum Company. In addition to their sugarcane juice distillations, Kuleana Rum Works is also in the game of blending rums. Their kuleana, or sense of personal responsibility, is evident not only in their name. They produce pure spirits, free of dyes, sweeteners, and flavors while remaining environmentally and community minded.
CEO and co-founder Steve Jefferson found his inspiration to produce Big Island rum during a family sailing trip around the Caribbean. Upon noticing the similarities between the volcanic island nation of Martinique and the island of Hawai’i, the opportunity was obvious. Once he returned to Big Island, Jefferson worked with now professor Noa Lincoln, who studied the original sugar cane varieties that ancient Hawaiians cultivated.
Sugar cane has a long history in the Hawaiian islands. From its introduction by Polynesians, through the sugar plantation boom, to the final commercial sugar company closing its doors in 2016, the types of sugar cane grown in Hawai’i have changed. Most of the varieties grown in recent decades are hybridized to target specific, desirable characteristics that facilitate large-scale commercial production. However, with the growing interest in craft and local distilleries, the traditional heirloom varieties are making a comeback! Kuleana Rum Works cultivate over 40 varieties of heirloom kō, or sugarcane, on their 44-acre farm in Upolu, Big Island’s northernmost point. They hand harvest their canes, juice them, and then send the juice to the Kawaihae distillery for fermentation.
Hawaiian Rum Agricole, 46% ABV, is distilled in a handmade copper alembic still. Once is reaches 74% alcohol, it ages in cognac barrels.
Huihui, 40% ABV, is a three rum blend. A molasses-based Papau New Guinea rum blends with the Kuleana Rum Works agricole distillate and another agricole rum from Martinique. The term huihui means “mixed, mingled, united, or pooled together,” fitting for this triple blend of familiar and exotic!
Nanea, 43% ABV, is another triple blend, but instead uses aged rums, none of which are Hawaian-made. Molasses-based, bourbon barrel-aged rums from Gaudeloupe, El Salvador, and Guatemala meld in this bottle, aiming to provide you nanea, a good time.
The Hawaiian Aged Rum Agricole is coming in 2020! Fresh sugarcane juice distillate is aged in cognac barrels, resulting in a “sensuous depth,” says Kuleana Rum Works. We’ll see! Hopefully they’ll update Nanea to include this locally-produced aged rum in place of one of their three outsourced rums.
Does it ship?
Chee hoo! Kuleana Rum Works products ship to the mainland! The bottles range from $35-$64. Order through Kona Wine Market.
Kuleana Rum Shack
Because the beautiful weather of Hawai’i encourages all celebrations to move outdoors, it is not uncommon to see people gathering around tables of food, games, and drinks sprawling out of family garages and down driveways. This setting inspired Kuleana Rum Shack, where you can celebrate with friends and family or just pass by for some ono food and Kuleana Rum spiked cocktails. The bar and family restaurant is a collaboration with Umeke’s Fish Market and features local food from the Hawaiian melting pot, including Japanese, Hawaiian, Korean and even Puerto Rican cuisine! Click here to view their food and drink menus.
Address: Kuleana Rum Shack, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa, HI 96738
Open everyday from 11:30am – 9:30pm, Happy Hour is 3pm – 5:30pm
Tasting are offered Tuesday-Saturday between 2-6pm at $20/person. Reserve here.