Kō (sugarcane) is king at Kō Hana Distillers, where native heirloom varietals, grown on its Oʻahu farm, are pressed, distilled, aged in oak barrels and made into small batches of what is Kō Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum.
“The majority of rum in the world is made from molasses, the waste product of industrial sugar. Our Agricole style celebrates the sugarcane – akin to a winery loving the grape,” Kyle Reutner, general manager of Kō Hana, explained.
The local rum maker was the latest business featured in Meet the Makers Series, a virtual showcase presented by Mana Up and Hawaiian Airlines that supports local businesses while giving viewers an up-close, immersive look at some of Hawaiʻi’s emerging brands.
The rum connoisseurs behind Kō Hana, which has been making its spirits since 2014, joined Mana Up’s business accelerator program in early 2018. The experience, Reutner says, has been incredible, helping his team propel the business forward and better navigate the local retail landscape.
Reutner says he will always consider the business a farm first despite his team’s success in establishing a prized local spirit. “We have a farm-to-bottle mentality. Every day our work is different, though growing and harvesting sugarcane tends to be incredibly laborious (and rewarding), and our work in the distillery will always be very scientific and intensive,” Reutner said.
“From fermentation to distillation, the smallest changes in the cane or environment can lead to vast differences in flavor. We see our art in the harnessing of those flavors and expression of Hawaiʻi’s terroir,” he added.
Those exploring Oʻahu can visit Kō Hana's facility in Kunia, book a tour of its farm and distillery, and top off the experience with an intimate tasting of its Agricole rums.
“We always welcome rum lovers to come down to our farm so we can crack open a bottle, talk story (have a conversation) over rum and teach people about our region, the Kō and our production processes,” Reutner said.”
Kō Hana hosted its live Meet the Makers event last week, providing a behind-the-scenes experience. Missed it? Click here to watch the video, where viewers take a virtual tour of Kō Hana Rum’s farm and learn how to make cocktails using its exclusive Meet the Makers tasting set.
Want to try Kō Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum yourself? You can purchase an exclusive Meet the Makers tasting set and browse products from past Makers at HouseofManaUp.com/Meet-the-Makers. Shoppers who use their Hawaiian Airlines® Bank of Hawaii World Elite Mastercard® earn two additional bonus HawaiianMiles per $1 spent on all purchases.*
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